The owners of the new commercial airline that’s set to begin serving the inter-Samoa route towards the end of this month, were in the territory last week to conduct training and finalize their set up in the territory.
Toleafoa Jeffrey Hunter and his wife Maria Westerlund-Hunter, the principal owners of Talofa Airways, say they are leasing what used to be the SPEX office at the airport and they have hired local staffers with airline and finance experience for their local operation.
Toleafoa has strong ties to American Samoa.
His mother Maxine is a Jennings and Toleafoa served in the US Army and did one tour in the Gulf War.
He enrolled at pilot school and studied at Kansas State University before heading home.
He piloted for Polynesian Airlines, Samoa Air and Fiji Air when it was known as Air Pacific.
The airline’s first day of service is August 29.
Toleafoa says they will operate 6-8 flights a day from Fagalii to Tafuna with one flight to Faleolo.
Their fleet consists of two, 9-seater Twin Commanders which are already in Samoa and which the owners have been using to fly here and to Tonga to finalize their airline set up.
Toleafoa believes the Twin Commanders are the right size aircraft for this market.
Flying time from Fagalii is just under 20 minutes.
Passengers will be allowed 2 bags with a limit of 44 pounds.
The airline president said the airfare will be competitive and there’ll be one fare structure for everyone.
Toleafoa says their schedule is based on the aircraft they have now and he will not even mention going to other routes at this stage until they have established themselves on the inter-Samoa route.
They will be flying to Tonga once they have been issued a license by the Kingdom.
The airline received approval from the US Department of Transportation last month for schedules flight service to American Samoa.
Talofa Airways has been issued a license to transact business here as a foreign corporation.