First ruling has to do with the governors, attempt to deny Hawaiian Air operating rights to the island.
American Samoa Can't Ban Hawaiian Service, DOT Says
American Samoa cannot ban Hawaiian from operating flights to and from Pago Pago, the U.S. Transportation Dept. ruled this week.
The decision resolves the question of whether powers given to the territory would cover the action. Hawaiian argued that such a move would be illegal, going against federal law that prohibits states and territories from taking action affecting the interstate airline operations.
American Samoa said it would ban Hawaiian from operating to Pago Pago once it found a suitable replacement to offer service to the mainland. The governor complained the airline was abusing its monopoly positions to charge local passengers higher fares and also levied discrimination charges against the carrier. American Samoan citizens also complained of poor customer service, which they claimed was ethically related.
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The second DOT ruling has to do with claim by the governor that Hawaiian Airlines was in violation of the Federal Essential Air Service program by limiting the number of seats to the island.
DOT Upholds Pago Pago EAS Levels In Latest Review
The Essential Air Service determinations for Pago Pago, American Samoa, will remain unchanged from those established in 1984, the U.S. Transportation Dept. decided after reviewing seven years of traffic stats.
American Samoa asked DOT to review Pago Pago traffic and order Hawaiian, the carrier serving Honolulu, to operate a fourth weekly frequency in June and determine the number of weekly frequencies that must be offered to "provide the needed seats." In making the case, American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono described a situation where it is impossible "for the people in our community to make a reservation to Honolulu from circa the middle of May for travel during the month of June.
The 1984 order held that Pago Pago should receive a total of 1,118 weekly seats to and from Honolulu during June, July and August and from mid-December to mid-January. DOT found that Hawaiian, which operates Boeing 767s on the route, offered 1,512 seats during the summer and yearend holidays. Average load factor on the route from 2000-2006 was 68%.
Gov. Tulafono also suggested traffic was being suppressed by "Hawaiian's monopoly-enabled high air fares." DOT looked at fares for periods when Aloha competed with Hawaiian on the Pago Pago-Honolulu route and found Hawaiian's fares were actually higher with competition than without. The department also noted higher fares may have more to do with increased fuel costs than with competition.
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Lets see what the colorful governor will try now.