Inter Island Air Takes Off

The American Samoan carrier Inter Island Air in the only airline offering regular service from Tutuila to Ofuand Tau in the Manu'a Islands. They also have an international flight to Apia, Samoa. The big news is that in June or July of 2009 Inter Island Airways will begin flying to Vava'u and Nukualofa in the Kingdom of Tonga and to Alofi, Niue. The expansion to Tonga and Niue involves the acquisition of a Dornier 328 30-seater Turbo Prop, currently due for delivery at Pago Pago in late March 2009. Inter Island Air plans to offer additional flights to the Cook Islands and Fiji upon receipt of their second Dornier 328 later in 2009.

With this, American Samoa may soon become one of the travel hubs of the South Pacific, as Apia was until 2005 when Polynesian Blue gobbled up many of Polynesian Airlines' old routes. All of this must certainly be music to the ears of the tourism people on Tutuila, and there's no denying that American Samoa is currently one of the best kept secrets in the Pacific islands. The scenery there is only equaled in the Society Islands and the hiking is about the best.

Interestingly, Alex Jennings, whose family owns the Swains Island, is an Inter Island Airways employee. He's is also the legislator representing Swains in American Samoa's fono or parliament. In March 2009, Swains Island will finally be connected to the world by broadband, and management at Inter Island Airways is working with Alex and the Government of American Samoa to construct a small airstrip on Swains. The development is being closely monitored to ensure a limited impact on the environment. One of the implications of this will be that it could open up a gateway to Swains and even the Tokelau Islands for travelers. Depending on how the airline handles fuel on the island (by ferry boat), Swains is a potential jumping off point to some of the most remote corners of the Pacific.

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