Marshall Islands declares state of emergency after cargo airline grounding

Two Asia Pacific Airlines cargo freighters parked on the tarmac.
エムティ, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Marshall Islands has declared a state of emergency to address the problems arising from last month’s FAA grounding of its principal air cargo airline.

In February the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) moved to suspend the operating authority of the Micronesian air cargo operator Asia Pacific Airlines.

According to the New Zealand regional news source RNZ, Marshall Islands President David Kabua has now issued a declaration of a state of emergency for the nation.

At the time of the grounding it was contended that the suspension of Asia Pacific airlines cargo operations would have a major impact on the region, given the fact that the carrier is the sole cargo provider for some island states.

These nations include the Federated States of Micronesia, American Samoa, Palau and the Marshall Islands.

FAA statement on grounding

Last month the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a formal statement on the grounding of the airline, offering up the reason that the carrier had failed to demonstrate that its pilots were properly trained.

On 7 February, the FAA formally stated that it had “suspended the operating authority of Aero Micronesia Inc., doing business as Asia Pacific, to conduct operations after the carrier was unable to demonstrate that its pilots were properly trained.”

The agency went on to state that it issued an Emergency Order of Suspension on Feb. 1, 2023, after the company failed to produce records showing that the two individuals who provide proficiency checks for company pilots were properly trained and qualified for the past two years.

Under the regulations, any flight check provided by these two individuals is invalid, meaning that none of the company’s pilots are currently qualified to fly.

The FAA notified Asia Pacific in December that it was in apparent non-compliance with the regulations and urged the carrier to suspend operations until the matter was resolved.

The Guam-based airline continued to operate, said the US aviation regulator.

Under the terms of the emergency suspension, the airline was directed to immediately surrender its air carrier certificate to the FAA and cease operations until the company is able to provide complete records.

About Asia Pacific Airlines

Headquartered in Guam, Asia Pacific Airlines was originally formed in 1998 to provide jet cargo services to Micronesia and the Western Pacific region.

The carrier now services the entire Pacific region with scheduled and ad hoc charter services, operating out of bases in both Guam and Honolulu.

Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands is a Pacific island country located near the equator, between Hawaii and Australia. It consists of 29 coral atolls and five single islands, with a total land area of just over 70 square miles (about 181 square kilometers).

The Marshall Islands has a population of around 58,000 people and its capital and largest city is Majuro. The official languages are Marshallese and English, and the currency is the US dollar.

The economy of the Marshall Islands is based primarily on subsistence agriculture, fishing, and government services.

RNZ have reported that the grounding of the major air cargo carrier has caused havoc for the Marshall Islands, affecting mail deliveries and also resulting in a shortage of medical supplies.

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read
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