by Michael Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council, December 28, 2015
Radio New Zealand International reported on December 19, 2015, that U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a bill that would exclude intra-state air transportation within the U.S. Territory of American Samoa from federal aviation cabotage.
The reason for the legislation is that there is no domestic carrier to provide intra-state air transportation within the Territory especially between Pago Pago on the main Tutuila Island and the outer Manu’a Islands. The Territory has been depending on independent Samoa (formerly Western Samoa) government owned airline Polynesian Airlines to provide service to Manu’a.
American Samoa is exempt from U.S. federal maritime cabotage including the Jones Act, but not exempt from aviation cabotage.
This is an interesting move by Sen Murkowski to exempt a noncontiguous jurisdiction from the application of intra-state cabotage, albeit in the aviation sector.
Sept 2015: Sen Ted Cruz Backs Airline Deregulation for American Samoa
A United States Senate committee has been assigned a bill that includes a provision to waive federal cabotage for domestic flights in American Samoa.
In October, the US Office of Insular Affairs submitted the proposed provision that would remove cabotage for flights between the main island of Tutuila and the Manu'a islands.
The flights are operated by the Samoa government-owned Polynesian Airlines under a cabotage waiver granted by the US Department of Transportation, which the airline is supposed to apply for every 30 days.
Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski, who introduced the bill, says the law would allow a non-US airline to operate the service without the need for the waiver.