2 S.Korean airlines to resume Saipan route next week

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Two South Korean airlines that have suspended their Saipan route as a result of the surge in COVID-19 cases are expected to resume services next week.

During a Marianas Visitors Authority board meeting this week, managing director Priscilla Iakopo said that Jeju Air and T’Way Airlines, two low-budget carriers based in Incheon that provide daily scheduled flights under the current travel bubble agreement, will resume flights in the first week of February.

Earlier this month, T’way Air decided to suspend its two-flights-a-week schedule until Jan. 28. Jeju Air ceased its Busan–Saipan route since Jan. 12.

Come next week, both airlines will be providing Incheon-based flights. However, the CNMI will still see travelers from Busan, thanks to the current charter in place with Air Busan.

During the same board meeting, majority of the MVA board voted in favor of subsidizing six Air Busan charter flights starting Jan. 23 in partnership with Micronesia Resort Inc.

Micronesia Resort Inc. operates the Kensington Hotel Saipan, Pacific Islands Club Saipan, and Coral Ocean Resort Saipan.

Air Busan’s first flight arrived on Jan. 23, and the next flight is expected on Jan. 30. There will also be four Air Busan charters flying into the CNMI on Feb. 6, 13, 20, and 27 under this agreement.

Air Busan passengers will receive incentives such as travel bucks that will go directly to the passenger.

In addition, MVA will also provide a $10,000 subsidy per flight will go to directly to MRI, which is essentially spearheading the charter.

Air Busan currently only offers flights on two international routes: from the southern port city of Busan to Qingdao in China, and from Busan to Saipan.

It was learned that the airline previously provided a Busan–Guam flight but has dropped Guam after establishing a charter with Saipan pursuant to the travel bubble agreement.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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