The following is an “open letter” to Hawaiian Airlines about how I think about their philosophy concerning American Samoa, namely the fares.
Hawaiian Airlines and CEO Mark Dunkerley,
I realize you want to make money and that American Samoa is in the middle of nowhere as far as airlines route go. I get that. However, I struggle to believe that you could not find a way to make the route work without raping every single person that cross the threshold of an aircraft owned by Hawaiian Airlines. That is what does not make sense to me.
Cebu Pacific Air has been able to make the flight from Manila to Sydney that is 3353.2 Nautical Miles for just over $150 for a base fare. In comparison, Pago Pago International Airport is only 2253.3 Nautical Miles and six times the cost. I understand the higher demand for traffic but how can they do it for a fifth of what you offer on a much shorter trip?
It is not just Cebu Pacific able to do this, either. Airlines like Air Asia, Hainan Airlines, and Norwegian Airlines are doing too. In fact, Norwegian flew me from Thailand to New York via Sweden for under $500. I could have made the trip and got a nice hotel and still be less than your five hour flight to American Samoa.
I guess what I am saying is something needs to be done. I want to see Hawaiian Airlines make money. That is the point of business. However, either you are charging more than is needed to do that (because you have no competitors in this route) or you are making some really silly decisions that are costing the airlines millions a year. Which is it?
Another factor that you seem to overlook is that this is probably the most expensive fare for a flight in America but it is traveling to one of the poorest communities in the country as well. Many American Samoans make little more than your fare in a whole month. Traveling to Hawaii or onwards for medical treatment (or other issues) is impossible. There has been cases of people dying because they did not have the finances to travel to Hawaii for treatment.
The bottom line is while you love routes without competitors (you left the Manila route because you didn’t want to compete), and you are making a killing on the American Samoa trip as well. It is time you start to think of other ways to make money without raping the passengers to the point that people are dying in American Samoa because of your fares. Just saying.
Former resident of American Samoa