29 May 2009

American Samoa struggles with cabotage restrictions

1:39 pm on 29 May 2009

American Samoa's US Congressman, Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, says it will be very difficult to get support in Congress for legislation to exempt American Samoa from cabotage rules which prohibit foreign airlines from operating direct flights between two US airports.

Last week, Governor Togiola Tulafono, in meetings with Congressional leaders and administration staff, proposed legislation be introduced to exempt American Samoa from cabotage.

The Congressman says he has previously extensively explored this issue and does not believe the Governor's call will gain support.

He says this is because if the cabotage waiver was granted for American Samoa, other states and territories would want the same exemption.

Other government and business leaders have said American Samoa is a special case because of the distance from the mainland.

They point out that the US Department of Transportation granted a cabotage waiver to Alaska because of its isolation.