US Senator attacks American Samoa cabotage law
by Michael Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council, September 10, 2015
Radio New Zealand International reports that U.S. Senator and Republican Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz of Texas announced his support to exempt the Territory of American Samoa from U.S. federal aviation cabotage.
Territorial leaders have been seeking an aviation cabotage exemption for many years to reduce the cost of air transportation between American Samoa other U.S. areas embraced by U.S. aviation cabotage. Sen Cruz is seeking support in the American Samoa Republican presidential caucus to be held on March 22, 2016.
American Samoa was made exempt from maritime cabotage by the late Nineteenth Century treaty that divided the Samoan Islands between American and German interests and granted the United Kingdom jurisdiction over the Tonga Islands (which took the form of a protectorate). The treaty is formally known as the Tripartite Convention of 1899. That treaty prohibited the three signatories – the United States, the United Kingdom and the German Empire -- from imposing maritime cabotage on Eastern Samoa (which became the Territory of American Samoa), Western Samoa (which subsequently became German Samoa, after World War I, as a League of Nations mandate territory, British Samoa, the independent Republic of Western Samoa in 1962, and is now known simply as the Republic of Samoa), and the Kingdom of Tonga.
The Tripartite Convention of 1899 did not address aviation cabotage as the Wright Brothers first powered flight was still four years in the future (1903) and no commercial aviation existed at the time.
Domestic aviation service to American Samoa has traditionally originated from Honolulu since the international airport at Tafuna was built in the late 1960’s and has been provided exclusively by Hawaiian Airlines since the 1990’s. Hawaiian Airlines operates a twice-weekly flight schedule between Honolulu and Pago Pago, American Samoa, departing Honolulu on Mondays and Fridays employing a Boeing 767-300 and returning the following day. Occasionally Hawaiian Airlines will operate a third midweek flight departing Honolulu on Wednesdays when demand warrants.
This sets up an interesting conflict over cabotage between American Samoa and Hawaii. The political and business leadership in American Samoa want an aviation cabotage exemption, while Hawaii State politicians including the State’s Congressional delegation are likely to support Hawaiian Airlines as the home town carrier.
US Senator attacks American Samoa cabotage law
Updated at 11:19 am on 9 September 2015
A US presidential hopeful is concerned that federal cabotage law is hindering economic prosperity and tourism development in American Samoa and Guam.
Aviation cabotage allows a foreign airline to operate on another country's domestic routes.
The senator for Texas, Ted Cruz, who plans to run as a a Republican Party candidate in the 2016 presidential election, is calling for federal cabotage law to be scrapped .
Mr Cruz's campaigners arrived in Pago Pago last week.
A consultant to Mr Cruz's campaign, Dennis Lennox, says American Samoa has tried to get cabotage laws waived for years to allow foreign carriers to operate in and out of American Samoa
to other US airports as a way to boost tourism development.
He says the three Pacific territories, including American Samoa, are valuable and strategically important insular areas to the US.
Last month the Samoan Government owned Polynesian Airlines was granted a 30-day cabotage waiver by the United States Transportation Department to operate American Samoa's domestic flights.
The US territories cannot vote in the presidential election, but are able to vote in selecting a candidate for the Republican and Democratic parties in their local caucus and conventions.
The Republican Party Caucus is set for 22 March 2016 in Pago Pago.
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Sen Ted Cruz Staff Listening Tour
by Michael Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council, September 8, 2015
The Samoa News reported Tuesday, September 8, 2015, on the visit to the Territory of American Samoa of a political consultant to the campaign of U.S. Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. The consultant Dennis Lennox visited the Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) prior to arriving in Pago Pago.
The Samoa News reporter Fili Sagapolutele also quoted Lennox as saying the federal cabotage laws are “unfairly penalizing the people of Guam,” which indicates that Sen Cruz’s concern about the effects of cabotage on the noncontiguous jurisdictions goes beyond the application of federal aviation cabotage to American Samoa.
Key excerpts quote.
US Sen. Ted Cruz, hoping to become the Republican Party candidate in the 2016 presidential election in the US, is deeply concerned with federal cabotage laws which are hindering economic prosperity and tourism development in the Pacific territories, including American Samoa, says Dennis Lennox, a consultant to Cruz’s election campaign.
Lennox . . . arrived early last week in Pago Pago for a two-week “listening tour” following visits to the territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas.
He also says that there is a serious need to “discuss federal cabotage laws because that needs to go.” (Samoa News should point out that ASG for several years has been trying to get cabotage laws waived, which would then allow foreign carriers to operate in and out of American Samoa to other US airports.)
He said cabotage laws are “unfairly penalizing the people of Guam”, and “it’s hindering economic development, preventing economic prosperity and it’s stopping any tourist development in American Samoa.”
He notes that Hawaiian Airlines — with two weekly flights and “higher air fares than what they should be” — has the monopoly between Honolulu and Pago Pago “because of federal cabotage laws.”
“We need a free market when it comes to air transportation” he said, adding that Cruz “is a huge supporter of the free market” because — among other things — it lowers the cost of living here, as well as increases economic prosperity and economic growth, which will result in increased tourism, not just from the mainland. He also said that if neighboring Samoa can do it — referring to its tourism industry — American Samoa certainly can.
Related: Hawaii Republican Presidential Caucus Set for Tuesday March 8, 2016