Samoa Airways (OL/PAO), the largest airline and flag carrier of Samoa, has announced that it will attempt to launch flights to Los Angeles in the near future, however, it would need to acquire new aircraft for the route.
Samoa Airways’ current fleet consists of three DeHavilland Canada Twin Otters, as well as one Boeing 737-800. The airline had previously ordered a larger 737 MAX 9, but the order was canceled during the worldwide 737 MAX groundings. The distance between Apia and Los Angeles would be more than the range of any aircraft in the airline’s fleet, so if it wished to fly the flight direct, it would need to acquire a new aircraft. The airline’s predecessor, Polynesian Airways, flew to Los Angeles with a Boeing 767.
American Samoa governor Lolo Matalasi Mogliga confirmed to the local broadcaster Talanei that the airline would begin flights to Los Angeles. In order to bypass United States cabotage rules while still picking up passengers from the larger Pago Pago airport, the airline would operate a flight from Apia, its current hub, to Pago Pago, then back to Apia and to Los Angeles. The airline is unable to fly direct from Pago Pago to Los Angeles as Pago Pago is in American Samoa, an overseas territory of the United States, prohibiting Samoa Airways, a foreign airline from operating flights from Pago Pago to another US destination.
Should the airline launch the Los Angeles route, it would bring in additional competition on the Oceania – US travel market. Samoa Airways currently flies to Brisbane, Sydney, and Auckland, and would offer one-stop itineraries between those destinations and Los Angeles.