Tinian Mayor Ramon M. Dela Cruz wants the Commonwealth Ports Authority to utilize what it charges and collects from passengers to and from the island for much-needed improvements at the Tinian airport terminal which he described as a disgrace that continues to negatively impact the island's tourism industry.
Dela Cruz disclosed that CPA is charging $4.50 each for passengers traveling from Saipan to Tinian or vice versa which translates to $9 per person, per round trip, or about $45,000 income yearly to the ports authority. This is in addition to the income generated by CPA from ticket counter and café leases.
In his letter dated Nov. 30 to CPA executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero, the mayor described these charges as counter-productive to Tinian's efforts to bring tourists to the islands and thus inhibiting economic development opportunities.
Dela Cruz requested CPA to eliminate or reduce these charges to passengers as it runs counter to what is being pushed by mayors all throughout Guam and the CNMI which is to promote an affordable, user-friendly transportation between the Mariana Islands through a cooperative working relationship among the mayors of Guam and the CNMI.
For the mayor, if commuter passengers are going to be charged, then the funds should be used to upgrade the terminals.
“The Saipan commuter terminal departure lounge is a disgrace. It needs to be painted. The TV has been gone for some time. It needs to be replaced and located in the Southwest corner so people can see the video and not be blinded by the sun. Also, there needs to be at least one drinking fountain in the terminal. The café closes at about 5:30pm, yet passengers for Tinian Dynasty Hotel are transiting all night long and there is no way for them to get a drink of water,” Dela Cruz told the CPA chief.
Also needed to be prioritized, according to the Tinian mayor, is the repair of the “new” departure terminal in lieu of the anticipated direct flights from Taipei as a result of the investment of Howarm Golden Islands, which recently purchased the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino.
Dela Cruz disclosed that for many years, this departure terminal-though new-remains inoperable. In acknowledging the ongoing case due to defective design of the project, the mayor described as “unreasonable” that it has taken seven years to correct the problems and get the facility operational.