14 Apr 2017

Swains leader sees benefits in Tokelau chopper stopover

4:57 pm on 14 April 2017

The House Representative for American Samoa's Swains Island says he was very happy to make the island available as a proposed refuelling stop for helicopters from Tokelau.

Swains Island delegate to the American Samoa House of Representatives

Photo: supplied / Fili Sagapolutele

Alex Jennings said Tokelau was keen to use Swains for refuelling as it was about the halfway point for a trip to Apia.

The Ulu of Tokelau, Siopili Perez, and his wife, Taase Perez, at their inauguration.

The Ulu of Tokelau, Siopili Perez and his wife, Taase Perez, at their inauguration. Photo: SUPPLIED / Tokelau government

There had been considerable controversy surrounding the helicopter purchase and Tokelau's leader, Siopili Perez, said the helicopters will be sold off before being put into service.

Mr Jennings said he had always been interested in furthering relationships with Tokelau, and discussions between both territories had often included air services.

"Now when I was approached the transaction had already taken place, as far as the purchase [of the choppers] and I assumed all the plans were in place. I was actually in Texas when I received the email so when I got back I went to meet with them and not only did I agree I thought it would be, for economic and safety reasons, it would be a benefit to have Swains as a stop over," said Alex Jennings.

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