I haven’t written about the saga in Pago Pago for quite some time. In fact, the last time I wrote about it was this post on the PriceGrabber discussion forums, so I thought it was time for an update.
There are two main players in this story. First, we have Hawaiian Airlines. They are the only airline to serve American Samoa (that’s where Pago Pago is) with the exception of some local flights to Samoa (the un-American one). In the other corner, we have this not-so-friendly looking guy on the left.
Yup, that’s Governor Tulafono and he really hates Hawaiian Air. Apparently, he thinks they charge too much and they don’t run according to schedule, so he wants them out. Even though he thinks he has the right to kick them out, the US government begs to differ. Hawaiian currently flies to Pago Pago as part of the Essential Air Services program sponsored by the US government. That means they get subsidies to fly there.
So, the governor has decided to take on the US government and try to kick out Hawaiian on his own. The government says that’s not going to happen. It’s been quiet for a few months, but now it looks like the governor is trying a different tactic – smear campaigns.
This article from a San Francisco newspaper says that the governor is blaming the fact that Hawaiian operates the Oakland Raiders charter on some flight disruptions to Pago Pago. He claims that every time they run a charter, the flights to Pago Pago have problems and it’s just another reason why Hawaiian should be kicked out.
Hawaiian says the problems are related to a delay in introducing a new aircraft into its fleet. It purchased some older Delta 767s and these apparently have taken longer to certify than they thought.
So, the governor will continue to whine and try to replace Hawaiian’s service even though he has no authority to do so. He says he’s been talking to United about a stop in Pago Pago (I’d say chances are slim to none) and that another airline in Hawai’i is interested but they are looking to see if their current equipment could fly the route. Well, Aloha knows it’s current equipment could fly the route – they’ve done it before and pulled out quickly. That means they must be talking to go!, and there is no way those CRJs are going to go 2600 miles over the ocean.
At least it’s entertaining.