By Chase Hagl
Hawaiian Airlines Returns Service To American Samoa
Hawaiian Airlines has announced that it will be returning to the U.S. Territory of American Samoa. The carrier looks to provide nonstop service between Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and Pago Pago-Tafuna International Airport, located in the village of Tafuna on the island of Tutuila in American Samoa.
Returning on Sept. 13, the airline’s service will consist of two flights per month and will extend through December 20. The territory’s acting governor, Talauega Eleasalo Ale, says Hawaiian Airlines will operate its flight on the second Monday of each month.
The airline had plans of returning to American Samoa on Aug. 26 but was forced to push the planned launch back due to the increased risk of the Delta variant.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Hawai-based carrier was the only airline providing flights between the territory and Hawaii with two flights per week. On request of the American Samoan government, regularly scheduled flights between the two locations were suspended on March 26, 2020 — 17 months ago — and haven’t returned to regularly scheduled service since.
Between March 2020 and now, the only return to American Samoa had been repatriation flights in January to help bring thousands of people back to their residence between the two locations.
The return to service means the reconnection for many families who have not been able to see their loved ones since the suspension.
“We are delighted to bring American Samoa back into our network and welcome guests who have been patiently waiting for our flights to restart,” said Brent Overbeek, senior vice president for network planning and revenue management at Hawaiian Airlines. “As Pacific island neighbors, we understand how much our guests rely on our service and we look forward to safely reconnecting family and friends.”
As imagined, traveling between the two locations comes with strict precautions. In order to travel to American Samoa, travelers must follow health and safety guidelines including proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test. On top of this, passengers arriving in Pago Pago are subject to quarantine for 12 days in the Tradewinds Hotel or the secondary Sadies by the Sea hotel following arrival. As for people arriving in Hawaii, they will not need to quarantine.
On Aug. 30, the carrier held a “test flight” containing 100 passengers which included medical professionals and essential people to test out its pre-travel screening protocols.
Currently, just about half of the American Samoan population is vaccinated, with approximately 25,000 people having received a shot.
The route will continue to be served by Hawaiian’s Airbus A330, which operated on the route prior to its usspension. The widebody aircraft utilizes a 278-seat configuration consisting of three classes. First class has an 18-seat 2-2-2 configuration with 45 to 46 inches of pitch. Extra comfort’s 68-seat class utilizes a 2-4-2 configuration with 36 inches of pitch. The remaining 192 seats employ a 2-4-2 configuration with 31 inches of pitch.
As demand continues to pick up and more individuals become vaccinated daily further increasing confidence, it is likely the market will see the number of flights between the two locations ramp up steadily in late 2021 and early 2022, with the possibility of returning to the pre-pandemic service of two flights per week.