Hawaiian grants Lolo's request to stop flights: HNL-PPG suspended
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — As the deadly coronavirus continues to spread globally, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has requested Hawaiian Airlines for suspension of flights between Honolulu and American Samoa “for 30-days or more, predicted on the COVID-19 for the United States but particularly, Hawai’i and American Samoa.”
An airline spokesperson told Samoa News that Hawaiian Airlines is granting the governor’s request.
Lolo’s written request comes after the Hawaiian flight, Thursday night (Mar. 26) from Honolulu resulted in full occupancy of the renovated Veterans Memorial Center at the Tafuna Industrial Park. About 40 arrival passengers were required by Health Department to undergo a 14-day quarantine in this facility and one was sent to the Leone Health Center.
So far, American Samoa has no confirmed case, while Hawai’i has recorded more than 100.
In his Mar. 27th letter to Hawaiian Airlines’ president and chief executive officer, Peter R. Ingram, the governor explained that the territory doesn’t have COVID-19 test-kits from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local “public health system is on the edge of collapsing.”
He acknowledged that Hawaiian is the only air-link from the territory to Hawai’i to transport suspected virus samples and any ill patients.
The governor points out that Thursday night’s Hawaiian Airlines flight “caused an overflow at the make-shift quarantine centers” in the territory.
“Although the need for Hawaiian Airlines to continue flying is clearly apparent, the lives of our people take precedence prompting the promulgation of new travel requirements,” he said referring to Health Department screening requirements at the Pago Pago International Airport of all arrivals, including local-residents.
However, “I took an oath to protect our people to the best of my God given ability,” he wrote. “In this spirit, I ardently request if it is at all possible to suspend all Hawaiian Airlines flights to American Samoa for a minimum of 30 days or more, predicted on the COVID-19 for the United States but particularly, Hawai’i and American Samoa.”
In conclusion, Lolo said he looks forward to a “favorable consideration” of the request “as a measure to help us save the lives of all residents of American Samoa.”
In response to Samoa News’ request for comment, Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson, Ann Botticelli, told Samoa News late Friday afternoon that Ingram has just sent the reply to the governor that “we will suspend service to Pago Pago at his (governor’s) request for at least 30 days effective immediately.”
“Our best wishes to the residents of American Samoa,” she added.
Samoa News will update this story as new developments come in on our website samoanews.com.