While I’m skeptical of this actually ever happening, American Samoa governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga has indicated that Samoa Airways plans to launch flights to Los Angeles International Airport. The airline is owned by the government, which would explain why a government official is making a statement about a new route for the airline.
He says that to get around US cabotage rules, the flight would operate from Apia to Pago Pago, pick up the territory’s passengers, and then return to Apia, before continuing to Los Angeles. That’s quite a process.
Currently there are no flights between Samoa and the US mainland, though Hawaiian Airlines flies between Pago Pago and Honolulu, and Fiji Airways flies between Nadi and Honolulu via Apia. Both routes are operated with limited frequencies.
Now, the challenge here is that this flight would cover a distance of ~4,800 miles, and Samoa Airways doesn’t have a plane capable of operating the route. The airline has a fleet of four planes, including a single 737, as well as three turboprops.
That one 737 is just leased from Malindo Air, and is expected to be returned at the end of the year. Furthermore, the airline was supposed to get a 737 MAX 9, but that order has been canceled following the groundings of the 737 MAX
So while this route sounds cool, it sure seems like there are some significant logistics standing in the way of this being a reality, not the least of which is lack of available aircraft.
In fairness, Samoa Airways’ predecessor, Polynesian Airlines, also briefly operated flights to Los Angeles using 767s.
There is a significant Samoan population in the US mainland, and California alone has over 60,000 Samoans.
The problem is that there wouldn’t be much business demand here, and it would be a very price sensitive route. While I suppose a once or twice per week flight might work, the logistics and costs associated with it just make this questionable.
Then again, perhaps this wouldn’t be about turning a direct profit on the flight, but rather would be about serving the community.
Do you think Samoa Airways will launch flights to LAX?