3 airlines cancel flights

Trump orders limits on entry of travelers from China

Three airlines that carry passengers from mainland China to the CNMI have suspended or cancelled their flights in February due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Commonwealth Ports Authority yesterday.

CPA also announced in a press release President Trump’s proclamation that suspends or limits the entry to the United States of persons who pose a risk of transmitting the 2019 novel coronavirus, which originated from Wuhan, China.

CPA said that Sichuan Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, and Beijing Capital Airlines have suspended flights in February.

CPA said Sichuan Airlines suspended all flights into the CNMI from last Saturday until further notice. Last Thursday and Friday, Sichuan Airlines provided “ferry-in” and “live-out” service. This means that the airline arrived in the CNMI with no passengers and left with travelers.

China Eastern also cancelled all flights from last Saturday until further notice.

Beijing Capital Airlines cancelled all flights beginning last Friday until the end of February.

CPA said Beijing Capital Airlines also cited as the reason for its suspension the monitoring and controlling of the virus.

CPA said it will continue to provide information to the public regarding any additional flight cancellations or suspensions.

Trump’s proclamation states that “the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the People’s Republic of China, excluding the Special Autonomous Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States is hereby suspended and limited, subject to section 2 of this proclamation.”

CPA said Section 2 of the proclamation provides the scope of suspension and limitation on entry.

Section 3 of the proclamation states that the State secretary and Homeland Security secretary will implement the proclamation as it applies to visas and the entry of aliens, respectively.

In the CNMI, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol will be responsible for the implementation.

CPA said Trump’s proclamation is effective at 5pm Eastern standard time on Feb. 2, which is today, Feb. 3, at 8am Chamorro Standard Time.

CPA said the president’s proclamation shall remain in effect until he terminates it.

CPA said it is currently collaborating with local and federal partners and is waiting for further information in regard to the implementation of the proclamation.

Last week, CPA board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds said the suspension of flights from China due to the coronavirus outbreak will have a serious financial impact on CPA.

King-Hinds disclosed that their comptroller’s preliminary review of the impacts peg an annual loss of $2.2 million in revenues should the suspension of flights continue toward end of fiscal year.

“That’s just CPA,” King-Hinds pointed out.

The chair said Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is working with the Marianas Visitors Authority, Department of Finance, and the Office of the Management and Budget to get the necessary data to determine what the impact will be on the CNMI overall.

Travelers from mainland China arrive in the CNMI through carriers such as Hong Kong Express, China Eastern Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, and Beijing Capital Airlines.

Carriers such as Jeju Airlines, T’Way Airlines, and Asiana Airlines also bring travelers to the CNMI transiting through Seoul and Incheon, Republic of Korea. Approximately 700 mainland Chinese passengers per day arrive in the CNMI from these carriers.

As to how long the outbreak will last, that is currently unknown as scientists are still studying the virus. In comparison, the first cases of what would later be known as SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, were first seen in the Guangdong province of southeastern China in November 2002. That lasted until July 5, 2003, when the World Health Organization announced that all person-to-person transmission of SARS has stopped. In all, 8,096 people in 26 countries contracted the SARS illness, leading to 774 deaths.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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