Talofa Airways to service Tutuila, Manu’a islands
Talofa Airways has been given the green light by the U.S. Department of Transportation to fly between Tutuila and the Manu’a islands.
This was confirmed in a notice issued by the D.O.T. which says it is issuing a permit to transport persons, property, and mail between Tutuila and Manu’a Islands for an initial period of 30 days beginning October 26, 2020.
Currently, Samoa Airways is the sole operator of flights between the two islands in American Samoa.
“The applicant states that the Government of American Samoa, citing the unreliability of ferry service between the islands among other reasons, has determined that a second foreign air carrier’s services are necessary to meet the critical transportation needs of its residents,” stated an advisory from the U.S. Federal agency.
“The [Talofa Airways] asserts that its proposed services will offer the more frequent air service and options being sought by the Government of American Samoa in order to prevent undue hardship to its residents, who are highly dependent on air transportation to meet their essential needs, including receipt of critical medical treatment and the delivery of much needed goods and government services.”
The owner of Talofa Airways, Toleafoa Jeffrey Hunter, told the Samoa Observer that the closure of the borders between the two Samoa’s presented the opportunity to apply for a license to operate between the islands.
He said the Manu’a-Tutuila route has always been on the radar of Talofa Airways, but at the time they only had two airplanes and were preoccupied catering to the two Samoa’s and also the Tonga route.
Toleafoa added they have a third airplane ready for pick up, but due to the pandemic and shutdown of borders, they hope to fly over the aircraft from the U.S. soon enough.
According to Toleafoa they are working together with the American Samoa Government.
“We will be consulting whether we can be based in American Samoa.”
He added that while competition is healthy, they are more concerned with affording another form of transportation for the people of Manu’a.