It has been three days since a Polynesian Airline plane left the Fagali’i Airport for PagoPago and the delay is frustrating hundreds of passengers who are running out of patience.
Polynesian Airline Chief Executive Officer, Taua Fatu Tielu told the Samoa Observer they had to stop flights to PagoPago on Tuesday because there was a problem in one of the plane’s engines.
He said the engine is needed to be “carefully inspected and tested several times” before it can take off. Their second plane cannot be used because it is being repainted.
Taua could not confirm when flights to PagoPago will resume. He, however, apologised for any inconvenience this might have caused and he hopes the flights will return soon.
Polynesian Airlines, however, is not the only airline experiencing difficulties.
For the past two weeks, Inter-island Airways has also stopped flying between Samoa and American Samoa. While an official comment from the airline could not be obtained at press time, a source within airline told the Samoa Observer that their aircraft is undergoing maintenance.
When the Samoa Observer visitedFagali’iat around 2pm yesterday, there were elderly people and children still waiting for an announcement from Polynesian Airlines.
More than fifty people have been waiting at the airport since 6 o’clock yesterday morning.Some people came as far as Savai’i and were supposed to leave on Tuesday.
Others had work commitments to attend.Some were scheduled to participate in a church conference being held in American Samoa.
Afoa Tupa’i Pe’a, of Lalomalava Savai’i was one of those unhappy people. Accompanied by six other family members including an eight-month-old baby, the father was very disappointed.
Afoa told the Samoa Observer they were scheduled to leave on Wednesday. Sothey caught the 6amferry from Savai’i and they have been stuck at Fagali’i for two days.
“We were told to wait and wait and wait,” he said. “The least they could’ve done is explain to us what is happening…we waited overnight and again this morning (8th November 2012).
“We received no assistance and explanation from them which is a disappointment.”
The grandfather said a family who live near the airport took his family in on Wednesday night.
“They were kind enough to offer all of us a place to rest,” said Afoa.
“So I thought that if it wasn’t for that family, the Airline would have never come to our rescue and couldn’t care less if people that were here were given some kind of assistance considering that it wasn’t our fault.
“But I thank the family that fed us for their good heart.”
Afoa and his family are going to PagoPago to participate in the Full Gospel conference.
Another passenger Leapai Uale, of Savaia Lefaga, said the Airline should provide transport allowances and accommodations for people who live in rural areas.
Leapai had planned to leave on Wednesday.
As for Rotary’s District Governor Ron Seeto, the delay means he will not be able to fulfill his workplace mission at PagoPago.
Mr. Seeto said if he missed this visit - which was planned several months ago with other business people in the island - it would mean loss of business.
“I would have to go back in January to Pago,” he said.
“I have a lot of people waiting for me because this meeting has been planned months ago and if I can’t make it, then it would mean I have to reschedule another meeting and that will cost us too.
“If they had informed us on Tuesday that there was a problem, I would’ve used that time productively to do other works for the local clubs.”
Mr. Seeto said it was unprofessional of the airline not to inform their customers before hand with the problem. The District Governor and his wife Sharon Seeto were scheduled to leave on Tuesday.