Thursday, August 17, 2006
In a truly bizarre action, given that Hawaiian Airlines is the only carrier to currently serve American Samoa from the United States, the Governor of American Samoa issued an executive order prohibiting the carrier from flying there. The Governor accuses Hawaiian of using its monopoly position on the Honolulu - Pago Pago route to charge airfares and fees that are higher than what it charges for service to other United States destinations that are a comparable distance away from Honolulu. Hawaiian has reportedly offered to meet with the Governor to resolve this situation but any meeting has been stymied by the Governor’s demand that reparations be paid to the people of American Samoa.
On August 10, 2006, Hawaiian filed a petition with the U.S. DOT asking it to rule on whether or not the executive order is preempted by the Transportation Act despite any customs or border authority the Governor may have. The petition raises interesting questions of law that will be considered more fully in future postings. Also, there is an article from Pacific Magazine that provides a good summary of this dispute.