Feds grant Samoa Airways longer exemption for Manu’a flights

Based on the new provision of federal law, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has granted cabotage exemption for Samoa government owned, Samoa Airways to continue to operate American Samoa’s domestic flights for up to early next year.

An amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorisation Act of 2018, introduced by Congresswoman Aumua Amata, and signed into law last month by U.S President Donald Trump, promotes improved air service in American Samoa, by allowing foreign carriers to apply to operate domestic flights, as well as seek renewal for a cabotage waiver, for six months instead of the previous 30-days.

With the new law, Samoa Airways late last month sought continued cabotage waivers and this time, from Nov. 9, 2018 through Feb. 11, 2019.

In a decision last week Thursday, the U.S Transportation Deputy Assistant Secretary and International Affairs, Joel Szabat granted the airline’s application for the requested time. A footnote in the decision cites the new amendment to federal law, which authorise the USDOT to renew for not more than 180 days cabotage exemptions granted to provide and sustain air transportation in American Samoa between the islands of Tutuila and Manu’a - as opposed to the previous 30-day maximum duration for renewal.

With the 180-days exemption, local and off island industry sources told Samoa News that the new federal provision gives Samoa Airways sufficient planning time for operations not only for passenger traffic but also aircraft scheduling.

“Airline business involves advance planning for its schedule and the previous 30-days federal law, does not work for any airline,” especially when an airline is required to follow many federal aviation regulations, sources said last week Thursday.