Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff and the Associated Press

Samoa governor: Hawaiian Air abuses monopoly

The governor of American Samoa, A.P. Lutali, says Hawaiian Airlines is using its monopoly position in the Honolulu-Pago Pago service to make excessive profits from high fares.

The airline contends that Lutali is comparing apples and oranges, not using the most commonly paid fares, which are lower than those Lutali quoted.

In a news statement and a letter to Transportation Secretary Federico Pena, Lutali said Samoans are glad that Hawaiian will increase its Honolulu-Pago Pago service from two flights a week to three in the summer and Christmas-New Year peak periods.

However Hawaiian, the only airline flying between the two points and the Samoans' gateway to the United States, recently raised fares, he said.

Lutali cited U.S. Department of Transportation figures that he said show Hawaiian made an operating profit of $7.4 million in its Pago Pago service in the year ended Sept. 30, while its total operations lost $4.4 million.

Keoni Wagner, corporate communications director at Hawaiian, said Lutali's fare comparisons are incorrect.

He said Lutali took an unrestricted, no advance booking fare to Samoa and compared it with restricted advance booking Hawaii-mainland fares.

Gray Line workers still can't cash paychecks

A federal tax lien is keeping Gray Line workers who lost their jobs when the tour bus company closed last week from cashing in their last paychecks.

Late last week, the state lifted its lien against Gray Line, but the company still is talking with the Internal Revenue Service to remove a federal lien that is preventing money from being put into a bank account to pay the workers.

The union representing Gray Line workers Wednesday said that they will go to court if the company doesn't honor worker paychecks. The company's 250 workers statewide who lost their jobs have two paychecks they have been unable to cash.

Workers have been told the company hopes to resolve the matter by the end of the week.

Gray Line had no comment Wednesday. The company abruptly shut down on March 18 after talks to find a buyer fell through.

Japan, U.S. close to air cargo agreement

TOKYO - After months of wrangling over Pacific air cargo routes, U.S. and Japanese negotiators are on the verge of an agreement to allow U.S. cargo carriers such as UPS and Federal Express more access to Japanese airports.

However, the deal falls short of an "open skies" agreement that would allow unlimited access to air routes for U.S. carriers in Japan and Japanese carriers in the United States, according to a Japanese Transportation Ministry official.

"We have almost agreed upon the elements of what will be finalized in April," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "I don't think there are any complaints left."

A U.S. Embassy spokesman called the outlook "positive" for negotiations to be concluded in Washington next month. More details would be released Thursday, he said.

For more local, national and international business news, see the Hawaii Inc. section in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Text Site Directory: [News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Community] [Info] [Stylebook] [Feedback]