Samoa Airways (OL, Apia Fagali'i) is planning to launch direct services to the US mainland, specifically Los Angeles Int'l, American Samoa governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga confirmed to local broadcaster Talanei.

The carrier plans to operate this route from Pago Pago in American Samoa. However, in order to bypass US cabotage restrictions, the service will operate from Pago Pago back to Apia Faleolo and only then to the US.

Although the two Samoas are only 120 kilometres apart, Pago Pago is located marginally closer to the US, and, as such, the detour will not be substantial.

According to the ch-aviation schedules module, neither of the Samoas currently has a direct air connection to the US mainland. Fiji Airways (FJ, Nadi) operates 1x weekly from Nadi via Apia to Honolulu, while Hawaiian Airlines (HA, Honolulu) flies 3x weekly between the Hawaiian capital and Pago Pago.

Samoa Airways does not operate any in-house aircraft capable of reaching the US mainland. The carrier was due to take delivery of a B737-9 earlier this year but shortly before the planned handover, the type was grounded globally. Samoa Airways currently wet-leases a B737-800 from Malaysia's Malindo Air (OD, Kuala Lumpur Int'l) to operate services to Auckland Int'l, Brisbane Int'l, and Sydney Kingsford Smith.

At almost 4,200 nautical miles (7,750 kilometres) great circle distance, the Apia-Los Angeles route would exceed the maximum-payload range of both the B737-800 and the B737-9.

The carrier also operates three DHC-6-300s, which it deploys from Apia Fagali'i to Pago Pago.

Samoa Airways also uses the Twin Otters to operate domestic flights within American Samoa from Pago Pago to Ofu and Fitiuta. It has been granted an exemption from US cabotage restrictions to operate these routes until an American airline enters the market. The current exemption is valid through February 7, 2020.