Alan Ah Mu
APIA: MONDAY 2 AUGUST 2013: An international airport at Aleipata District will boost trade and tourism.
Chief Executive Officer of Samoa Air Chris Langton believes that.
Already Aleipata is a prime tourism area.
“Aleipata has been clearly marked as a logical place to extend tourism growth so it will need all the transport solutions,” Langton said.
The beaches at the district are popular with visitors, locals and tourists alike who arrive by motor vehicle and bus on a relatively good road network.
Access by aircraft will now be an option.
Tourists land at Faleolo International Airport and spread out to accommodation.
In inter-Samoa travel traffic “overwhelmingly” consists of visitors who come from American Samoa at a ratio of about 8:1, said Langton.
“So it makes sense to connect to Pago (Pago Pago International Airport in American Samoa) from (the) East End (Aleipata) which avoids doubling back to Apia or to Faleolo (International Airport),” he said.
Aleipata is the closest part of Samoa to American Samoa.
Visitors from American Samoa can enter through Faleolo west of Upolu on Polynesian Airlines or Inter Island Airways – or through Fagali’i International Airport a few minutes’ drive from the capital Apia on Polynesian Airlines or Samoa Air.
Air travel between Pago and Aleipata will take all of 15 minutes, Executive Director of Inter Island Airways, Barney Sene said.
To fly between Pago and an airport at Aleipata will cut the cost by about half of the current Pago/Fagali’i connection, said Langton.
“The reduction in this cost makes imports and operations between American Samoa and Samoa very favourable for businesses and developments and the short flight sector having an airfield there (Aleipata) as soon as possible,” he said.
An airport at Aleipata will link it by air to connecting visitors who land Faleolo and Fagali’i airports.
An old wharf in Satitoa village, Aleipata, was revived but soon after was destroyed by the 2009 tsunami.
Undaunted by criticism Government plans to rebuild the wharf.
“A marine facility and an airport go hand in hand,” said Langton, “each supports the other’s growth.”
Evidence of that exists everywhere in the world and usually the airport is built first, he said.
The goals for the new airport are to boost trade with American Samoa and tourism.
“Improved trade and tourism shall not be dependent on the provision of one airport,” civil aviation consultant, Papali’i Grant Percival.
Thanks to the Food Safety Management Act 2012 regulations on food will become stricter when they come into force in January 2014 next year, said Papali’i, also a food exporter.
“Food Safety is no longer restricted to the known hazardous foods but has been changed to apply to all foods and we have been asked to make submissions on this issue,” he said.
“If the Government is serious about addressing these non-tariff barriers then it needs to make a submission, otherwise the de facto situation shall remain and get worse as it is applied to other areas of the food industry.
“Therefore the goals need other things to be implemented to be able to be viable.”