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«Phase Two Report August 5, 2014 i American Samoa Air Transport Marketing Study Phase Two Report, August 5, 2014 Contents Recommendations Executive ...»

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American Samoa

Air Transport Marketing Study

Phase Two Report

August 5, 2014


American Samoa Air Transport Marketing Study

Phase Two Report, August 5, 2014



Executive Summary


Background for Recommendations

Task 5 and Task 6: Approaches to Expanding Air Services and Recommended

Strategies to Provide Air Transport Services Capacity Needs

1. Honolulu and the Mainland

2. Hawaiian Airlines and Competitors in the US Airline Industry

3. Apia, Manu'a and Savai’i

4. Neighboring Pacific Islands beyond Samoa

5. New Zealand and Australia

6. Changes in Federal Laws or Regulations

7. American Samoa Airports

8. Immigration

9. Security

10. Tourism Development

11. Tuna Canneries

12. Passenger Survey – Pago Pago International Airport

ii American Samoa Air Transport Marketing Study Phase Two Report, August 5, 2014 Airline Contacts and Industry Conferences

Phase Two Meetings



Tables Table 1 Top Origin and Destination (O&D) Markets from PPG – YE March 2014.............. 20 Table 2 Top US Passenger Airlines by Operating Revenue – YE March 2014

Table 3 Pago Pago-Honolulu Passengers, Seats and Passenger Load Factor (PLF).......... 24 Table 4 Pago Pago-Honolulu Average Passenger Fares

Table 5 Monthly Passengers on the PPG-HNL Sector

Table 6 Pago Pago-Apia Passenger Services

Figures Figure 1 Largest Detailed NHPI Groups in 2000 and 2012

Figure 2 Honolulu Nonstop Route Network

Figure 3 Seasonality on the PPG-HNL Route

Figure 3 Honolulu Widebody Routes Operated by Hawaiian Airlines

Figure 4 United Airlines’ Honolulu Network

Figure 5 Alaska Airlines’ Honolulu Network

iii American Samoa Air Transport Marketing Study Phase Two Report, August 5, 2014

Recommendations The success of air service development for American Samoa will depend on individuals in the ASG taking responsibility for specific tasks and taking responsible action. Our recommendations for ASG action are summarized in this matrix, with more background provided in the next section. We stress the importance of placing responsibility for leading implementation with the Agency best able to provide the special skills required to deal with airlines and federal agencies relevant to that task, be it the Governor’s Office, the Attorney General, Department of Port Administration (DPA), Department of Commerce (DOC) or the American Samoa Visitors Bureau (ASVB).

–  –  –

Recommended Actions: Consult with CBP and large airports on technology. Seek advisory assistance from CBP and explore FAA or DOT grant funding for needed equipment. Work on use of Hawaiian’s passenger manifests as a principal data source.

–  –  –

Executive Summary Phase Two of the Air Transport Marketing Study has been the development and implementation of plans for bringing about air service improvement and removing impediments to air service for American Samoa. Work on Phase Two included extensive interaction with the airlines serving American Samoa and a large number of other airlines identified as prospects for service within the next few years. It followed Phase One, which developed and organized air transport and broader economic and demographic information and data for American Samoa, describing both the current situation and the history.

Acknowledgements Many officials of the American Samoa Government and other people involved in American Samoa air transportation and related activities have contributed significantly to this Study. We thank all of them for graciously giving time and attention to the Study and support for its objective: Improving air service for American Samoa.

Special thanks go to the DOC management and staff who worked with us from start to finish. Atuatasi Lelei Peau (Project Manager), Director Keniseli Lafaele, Milo Niuelua, Lasiandra Hall, Ma’u Alipate, Leifiloa Tanoi and Reinette Thompson. Thanks to Congressman Eni Faleomavaega, Vincent Kruse, Jason Prichard, Debbie Suhren, William Sword, Sione Kava and Fatu Tielu; also to Barney Sene, who reviewed and commented on several report drafts, and to many, many others.

Background for Recommendations This section includes expanded background information for the action items covered in the Recommendations Summary matrix shown above.

Hawaiian Airlines Hawaiian Airlines is best positioned to add flights and reduce airfares for travel between Pago Pago and Honolulu with connections to the Mainland an Asia. The ASG has American Samoa Air Transport Marketing Study Phase Two Report – August 5, 2014 improved its relationship with Hawaiian but must take practical steps that will be good

for both the airline and American Samoa. The recommended next steps should be:

1. Continue the dialogue with Hawaiian Airlines and further strengthen the relationship that developed through a series of meetings and other communications in the past year.

2. Decide what resources ASG is willing and able to provide as incentives for Hawaiian increasing the number of PPG flights and offering more promotional fares.

3. Facilitate connections at Pago Pago International Airport based initially on the proposal for Polynesian Airlines to operate PPG flights from Apia Faleolo (APW) on the nights when Hawaiian comes in, timed to connect in both directions.

United Airlines and Alaska Airlines

Both of these airlines have responded favorably but not decisively to the possibility of launching Honolulu-Pago Pago service with B737-800 aircraft, but neither wants to consider it seriously for startup before 2016 or 2017. ASG officials have been introduced to planning staff of United and Alaska and should maintain dialogues with them, making sure that American Samoa remains on their lists of potential new routes in the Pacific.

Incentives for UA or AS to launch PPG service are not an issue now, because both airlines have larger strategic factors to solve before it becomes a real possibility. Nonetheless, the ASG should decide what amount of money or the equivalent in waivers of fees and charges it will be prepared someday to commit. With two weekly roundtrip flights representing about $10 million of annual cost and revenue, an incentive proposal would be more to get attention from the airline decision makers than to materially change the economics of the route.

Supporting Charter Proposals American Samoa Air Transport Marketing Study Phase Two Report – August 5, 2014 The ASG was approached in 2013 for support of a Honolulu charter program and may receive similar requests in the future. In considering such support, the ASG should recognize Hawaiian Airlines is likely to view it negatively. Two factors would determine how strongly Hawaiian might object.

The first factor is the scale of the charter program and level of ASG support (larger scale and greater support create more problems with HA). Second is what the ASG might at the same time offer Hawaiian for fairness and to achieve the same results. We recommend that the ASG first consult with Hawaiian Airlines as described above about what support it might require to expand its flight schedules and offer lower fares on the HNL-PPG route.

We recommend that the ASG consider providing support to charter promoters only after it makes every effort to work with Hawaiian Airlines for satisfactory expansion of PPG air service and conducts careful due diligence on the program sponsor and plan.

Cabotage The ASG has long had the objective of lifting the unfortunate Cabotage restriction that prevents foreign airlines from carrying domestic passengers on routes that include PPGHNL, PPG-LAX or even PPG-FAQ and PPG-OFU.

Samoa Air requested and received a Cabotage exemption but it was so limited as to be economically useless, allowing transportation only for medical emergencies and good for only 30 days at a time. Samoa Air never used the exemption and allowed it to lapse without requesting renewal. Real relief for American Samoa is not within the authority of the USDOT and would require legislative action.

Congressman Eni Faleomavaega has asserted strongly that seeking such legislative action is not practical. We have found that view supported by USDOT officials and aviation lawyers in Washington who handle regulatory matters. Further, the airlines we have American Samoa Air Transport Marketing Study Phase Two Report – August 5, 2014 approached have shown no interest in Cabotage service, including Fiji Airways and Air New Zealand, which are best positioned for such service.

Hawaiian Airlines would vehemently oppose any Cabotage relief and the effort would sour the ASG’s important relationship with Hawaiian. We recommend that the ASG not seek legislative action on this contentious and sensitive issue with no real chance for success.

Supporting Tourism Development The ASG has identified tourism as an important growth sector. Tourism infrastructure is limited, however, and for the near future generally needs promotion as a niche destination appealing to visitors interested in the Sanctuaries, National Parks and unspoiled terrain of the islands. Plush beach resorts attract large numbers of visitors but are not yet developed in American Samoa.

The American Samoa Visitors Bureau has helped to develop cruise ship visits and sees potential for further growth in that activity. It also is working with Air New Zealand and other airlines to sell packages linked to stays in Samoa, which attracts visitors with more advanced tourism infrastructure.

The Visitors Bureau appears to have done well with a limited budget, which should be reviewed for possible increase. Meetings at the 2013 Routes conference provided international airline contacts that can grow into programs like the Air New Zealand add-on packages.

The ASG appears willing to support the development of hotels and other tourism facilities, but major projects are difficult and take years to move forward. Smaller projects may produce results more quickly.

Expanded Vision American Samoa Air Transport Marketing Study Phase Two Report – August 5, 2014 Appendix A to this report contains a broad discussion of tourism development as it has been accomplished through long term, large scale effort in various places around the world. The range of air service opportunities for America Samoa would expand along with tourism and the presence of resort operators motivated to attract visitors who necessarily would arrive by air.

Inter Island Airways and Manu’a Airways

Inter Island Airways (American Samoa) has serious problems with an effective fleet of just one Dornier 228 aircraft. The aircraft was out of service for about four weeks in FebruaryMarch, leaving Apia service to Polynesian Airlines and leaving Ta’u with no service. The Do 228 was down again in late July with no indication of a projected date to resume service.

Inter Island Airways has indicated consideration of new Pago Pago routes and has repeatedly pushed the possible start dates further into the future. As of August 1, 2014, its website states that it is exploring service to Tonga (Vava’u and Nuku’alofa) and Niue in December 2014. Inter Island has not operated revenue service since 2012 with the Dornier 328 aircraft it would use for these longer routes.

The ASG should ask what it can do to help Inter Island Airways with the startup of new routes if those plans are serious. The airline may need arrangements involving the FAA, the US Department of State, the Government of Tonga and various airports, ground handling companies, maintenance providers, travel agents, banks and other service providers at the destinations.

Inter Island Airways may also want to carry local traffic between Vava’u and Nuku’alofa and to work with RealTonga on connections and sales. If so, the ASG could offer help to facilitate development of that relationship through the Government of Tonga.

American Samoa Air Transport Marketing Study Phase Two Report – August 5, 2014 Inter Island is starting also a new brand, Manu’a Airways, using the 9-passenger BN2 aircraft transferred from the ASG pursuant to a July 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The Inter Island website as of August 1, 2014 showed a Mid-October 2014 start, subject to completion of maintenance on the aircraft and FAA inspection. Should there be further delay, the ASG should provide resources needed to help get Manu’a Airways started or devise an alternative plan for service to Ofu.

We were successful in alerting the Department of Port Administration to the unfairness of the landing fee structure, which charged Inter Island Airways three times as much as Polynesian Airlines for each landing, though their aircraft carry similar loads. The changes implemented by the Department will reduce charges for Inter Island Airways by around $25,000 per year and add about half that amount to charges for Polynesian Airlines.

No ASG action is needed in regard to plans for Inter Island Airways (Fiji), which is delayed until at least November 2014. The plan for the Fiji airline includes a reservations system and internet booking functionality with the same system to be used by Manu’a Airways and eventually by Inter Island (American Samoa). That capability is the key to opening PPG flights for customers and travel agents outside the Territory and the region. ASG should provide resources to get an automated booking system and GDS connectivity for PPG services.

Connecting Passengers through Pago Pago International Airport

Increased passenger volumes between Pago Pago and Apia will strengthen the airlines, which will generate increased revenue and be able to improve their services. Setting up a transfer capability at the airport is discussed above as a way to enable Hawaiian Airlines and Polynesian to connect Apia passengers through Pago Pago more easily.

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