Air Force Plane Not the Same as Passenger Flight: Amata

Congresswoman Uifaatali Amata has weighed in on Governor Lolo Moliga’s decision to deny entry of US Air Force planes and personnel who were supposed to overnight in the territory on their way to the Antarctica.

“It is a true blessing that we don’t have any COVID cases on the island. It is also a blessing to be part of the United States, as we celebrate every Flag Day,” said Uifaatali.

She said she respects that the Governor has a big responsibility, that COVID is a serious matter, and that these can be difficult decisions.

She also appreciate the sensitivity and professionalism the Air Force has shown to this situation.

“It is my belief that we should make every effort to accommodate future military flights to Antarctica, and ensure we are a welcoming long term partner with these flights.

“Fortunately, we know a vaccine will soon be ready. We know that American Samoa is a strategic location, and that our quarantine center is available because of federal funding for purposes that could include circumstances like this, especially in the event of a smaller group of military personnel.”

Governor Lolo has said that he had supported the USAF mission and had agreed to their arrival and overnight stay however after a crew member tested positive for coronavirus, and with the first coronavirus case reported from Samoa, he changed his mind and denied entry for 3 Air Force planes that were to deliver supplies to the Antartica, because he didn’t want to risk entry of the deadly virus to our shores.

Congresswoman Uifaatali pointed out that an “Air Force flight is a different circumstance from a passenger flight, and the COVID testing of the Air Force before a flight to Antarctica would be thorough.”

“We love our Armed Forces in American Samoa, and expect that American Samoa will be a reliable stopping point for these missions for many years. I support the Department of Health in the efforts they have made to put in place a plan, both for repatriation and when they were preparing for this Air Force refueling and rest stop,” said Uifaatali.

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