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No air traffic control tower in Pago due to not enough traffic

Port Administration Department deputy director, Chris King (left) and Port director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Port Administration Department deputy director, Chris King (left) and Port director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele, responding to various questions during yesterday’s Fono Joint Budget Committee hearing on the department’s FY 2019 budget.

Among the issues raised is the status of whether an air traffic control tower will ever be constructed at Pago Pago International Airport, to which Taimalelagi said not only does her department continue to raise this issue with FAA officials, but Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has also raised it with the US Department of Transportation.

However, she says the response from the feds is that airlines and passenger traffic at the Tafuna airport doesn’t warrant a control tower, which costs around $12 million. Taimalelagi said however, ASG continues to raise this issue with the federal officials every chance they have.

(Samoa News notes that the control tower at Faleolo International Airport in neighboring Samoa is used by international flights entering Pago Pago.)

Also asked during the budget hearing were questions about the revenue collected at the airport, through services such as the money the public pays to park at the airport. Taimalelagi explained that those details are listed under the Airport Division’s profit and loss statement.

During the first eight-months of FY 2018, revenue collections stand at over $1.33 million, with $952,185 in “rents & leases” the highest revenue source; followed by $215,805 for landing fees and only $86,883 for parking fees.

For FY 2019, the Airport Division is forecasting $2.21 million in revenues with $1.2 million under rents & leases. Other revenue sources: a portion of the jet fuel excise tax ($30,000); airport landing fees ($500,000); parking fees ($150,000); other income ($150,000) and airport’s share of the hotel tax ($185,000).

The airport division also gets an annual subsidy from the ASG general fund of $1 million, which brings the Airport Division’s FY 2019 total budget to $3.12 million.