American Samoa to cut inter-island flights
The American Samoa Government is proposing to reduce the number of the inter-island flights run by all airlines.
The Director of Health for the American territory, Motusa Tuileama Nua, told the Samoa Observer that both airlines operating between the two Samoas would be affected by the edict: Samoa Airways and Talofa Airways.
“I can confirm we are considering reducing the interisland flights,” Motusa said.
“There are concerns in light of the confirmed coronavirus in New Zealand; the Government has to be vigilant in border control.
“And decreasing the flights is one way to control the number of travelers coming to the territory and the risk of the [coronavirus] spreading here.”
The Samoa Observer contacted Samoa Airways and Talofa Airways for comment but there was no response as of press time.
Motusa declined to comment further about the proposed cutdown.
But local outlet talanei news reported on a local press conference at which the changes were attributed to fears about the coronavirus.
“This is half the number of flights which Samoa is now enforcing for each of the airlines on the inter Samoa route,” the outlet quoted the Director of Health as saying.
At the briefing Motusa said New Zealand now has a coronavirus case and people should keep in mind the recent measles epidemic in Samoa was first brought to the island from New Zealand.
“The Dept. of Health is also recommending the suspension of the weekly Talofa Airways flight from Tonga,” he reportedly said.
Local outlets reported that the plan to reduce flights would remain in place until March 26 and the ending of a current public health emergency in force on the island.
The territory’s Director of Port Administration, Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele, reportedly said she would consider delaying the flight reduction plan until she’s talked with the airlines concerned because of the potential impact on flights to Manu’a islands.
Samoa Airways currently flies five times a week to Manu’a.
For Hawaiian Air flights, the Department of Health is recommending that all travelers from overseas territories and parts of the United States with active coronavirus cases, spend 14 days in Hawaii first before arrival in American Samoa.
They must also obtain a medical clearance from Hawaii 3 days before arrival in the territory.
All foreigners traveling to American Samoa must obtain an American Samoan entry permit. Permit applications are subject to a 30 day review period.
OK boards, entry permit waivers and other clearances that were issued before have all been suspended.
A final health advisory is to be issued tomorrow after Governor Lolo Moliga gives official approval Talanei reported.