Contributed by: Tia Belau

President  Peter Christian of the  Federated States of  Micronesia (FSM)  in his   first participation in  the 8-member Small Island States (SIS) meeting on Wednesday, September 7  after the unanimous approval of the FSM admission   into the sub grouping of the smallest member countries  of PIF (Pacific Islands Forum), disclosed that Micronesia region ‘s dominant airline, United Airlines, last Friday threatened to stop serving Kosrae  which will leave the isolated smallest state of the FSM without air service.


Kosrae Governor Lyndon Jackson confirmed to TIA BELAU that he informed President Christian about the  threat  after he received message from his state over  the  weekend that UA manager in the state told the airport officials that the airline will pull out of the state if the incident last Friday happens again.  Nauru Airline reportedly had arrived  in Kosrae last Friday  a  few minutes before the  UA flight  but UA  demanded to be refueled first  and eventually their plane was refueled first and left 55 minutes late but before Air Nauru.  The airline manager  then allegedly made the threat.

President Christian raised the issue as an example of problems with transportation in the region particularly among the small states that impede their development and show their economic vulnerability which also caused by monopolistic and large corporations that should be addressed by SIS and PIF.

Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu and outgoing chairman of SIS in his comments during  the Taiwan’s sponsored  reception in the previous evening, had called UA the worst airline he had ever taken for not serving food at the flight from Guam and for its expensive airfare after he  took  its flight to   Pohnpei the day before.

Nauru Airline  early this year commenced flight  from Fiji  through Majuro  to Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Chuuk  and back  a week for a ticket price half of that  of UA, one of the largest airlines in the world. For example, the round trip flight  between Kosrae and Pohnpei costs  over  $500 for UA but is about half of that, about  $250 for Nauru Airline.

UA fare in the Pacific is said to be the highest in the world as shown by some of  its fares to and from Palau.  For example, the UA fare between Palau and Manila for less than a 3-hour flight   is between $670 and  $900 round trip, more than    ticket  price  of less than $700 for  the flight of  China Airline between Palau and Taiwan which  is longer than one hour  in flight time.  The flight between Palau and Pohnpei costs about $1,200 which is more or about the same  fares between  Palau and  USA or  Europe and back.   [/restrict]