Pago Wings has refuted local media reports that it improperly operated charter flights between the American Samoan islands of Tutuuila and Manu’a, telling ch-aviation its flights were in accordance with regulations. The company also says it is merely a limited liability company, not an air carrier.

The response followed a report in the local Talanei news outlet that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had opened an investigation into Pago Wings following a complaint from Samoa Airways (OL, Apia Faleolo) that the start-up had been conducting unauthorised charter flights between the two islands with passengers onboard, including government employees. Samoa Airways reportedly alleged this could constitute a safety risk.

Pago Pago-based businessman Papali’i Laulii Alofa owns the Pago Wings entity, which is under the control of Part 135 air carrier Pacific Air Charters (Honolulu). Pago Wings leases its aircraft to Pacific Air Charters. That airline ferried the first Pago Wings Tecnam P2012 (N1202P (msn 56)) to American Samoa in September 2023. FAA records show Paramount Builders Inc, a company owned by Alofa, entered three P2012s onto the US register in 2023 and a fourth in January 2024.

Pago Wings/Pacific Air Charters had hoped to start Part 135 flights around American Samoa in late 2023 using Tecnam P2012s while it awaited certification to expand into scheduled operations. However, the launch timeline has slipped. In January, ch-aviation reported flights to test payload capabilities were underway.

"When it was doing test flights to Manu’a, Pago Wings was taking government employees back and forth," reports Talenei. "Samoa Airways contends that it appears that Pago Wings has not met the requirements for operating charter flights."

"Pacific Air Charters has operated some flights within American Samoa under Part 91 and carried passengers within American Samoa," Pago Wings President Marshall Ashley told ch-aviation. "These were not test flights and did not require any authorization."

Ashley also clarified the nature of Pago Wings' structure and how it would operate. "Pago Wings LLC is an LLC organized in American Samoa to hold title to aircraft (which are leased to Pacific Air Charters) and to isolate the American Samoa tax consequences," he said. "It is not an air carrier and has not operated any flights."

Samoa Airways did not respond to a request for comment.