Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that Hawaiian Air has responded to his letter of August 23, 2006 and requested a meeting to answer Faleomavaega’s questions about pricing. In a letter dated August 25, 2006, Mr. Mark B. Dunkerley, President and CEO of Hawaiian Air, thanked the Congressman for his letter about fares and said he would be delighted to meet about pricing and to answer the Congressman’s questions.
Hawaiian Air first contacted the Congressman’s office about a possible meeting on August 24, 2006 immediately upon receipt of the Congressman’s letter regarding Hawaiian Air fares. “I thank Mr. Dunkerley for his prompt reply to my letter of August 23, 2006 and I have every intention of meeting with him in the very near future,” Faleomavaega said. “Most importantly, I see this as a positive and necessary step in bringing about some kind of resolution to this serious problem that confronts our people.”
“Again, I want to re-emphasize that for months the issue between Hawaiian Air and the Governor’s office has been primarily a local problem because it did not involve the federal government. I think it is very important for our public to understand this. The people of American Samoa elected Governor Togiola to represent them locally. The people of American Samoa elected me to represent them federally. But some issues are both local and federal in nature and therefore sometimes it becomes difficult to separate the two.”
“So, as a matter of practice, over the years I have always deferred to our Governors on issues that begin locally and, in this case, out of respect for the elected office Governor Togiola holds and in deference to his desire to handle local matters without my assistance, I did not interfere in resolving his dispute with Hawaiian Air and at no time did Governor Togiola or Mr. Dunkerley request my assistance in resolving their dispute. As our people know, Senate President Lolo and I did publicly urge the Governor to meet with Mr. Dunkerley but the Governor has refused any such meeting until Hawaiian Air reduces its fares which, of course, is his prerogative.”
“However, when the Governor issued his Executive Order and when Hawaiian Air petitioned to a federal agency, namely the US Department of Transportation, their dispute became a federal issue. As I recall, Hawaiian Air filed its petition with the US Department of Transportation on August 10, 2006. On August 23, 2006, I informed Mr. Dunkerley that because this issue has now become a federal problem the US Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have determined to keep my office abreast of any developments between Hawaiian Air and ASG.”
“Now that this issue has become a federal problem, I also informed Mr. Dunkerley of my intent to call for a federal review of Hawaiian Air’s pricing based on research conducted by my office which shows a substantial difference in airfares between locations of nearly equal distance. In response to my concerns, Mr. Dunkerley has requested a meeting.”
“I remain hopeful that upon meeting with Mr. Dunkerley we can begin the process of negotiation which should take place. Without question, American Samoa has no alternate air carrier in place and, therefore, it is in our best interest to hammer out our differences until we can find a solution that works for our people and Hawaiian Air. I do intend to discuss this matter further with the Governor sometime this week. I am also prepared to raise the issue of pricing with the US Department of Transportation if my meeting with Mr. Dunkerley is unsatisfactory,” Faleomavaega concluded.