Air Seoul, Air Busan eye Nov. flights to Saipan

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Two South Korean airlines, Air Seoul and Air Busan, which have shown an interest in flying to Saipan as a result of the success of the Tourism Resumption Investment Plan, are both looking at making their maiden flights to Saipan this November.

In a brief statement from Marianas Visitor Authority managing director Priscilla Iakopo, Air Busan and Air Seoul have expressed a similar intent to start flying in the next few weeks.

“New airlines have communicated their intent to provide air carrier services to the CNMI, such as Air Busan, Air Seoul, and Jin Air. They have expressed that they would like to fly in the next few weeks,” she said.

In a separate statement from Commonwealth Ports Authority board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds, she said that Air Seoul and Air Busan specifically requested approval to start flying in November.

“Right now, we have Air Seoul and Air Busan requesting to fly in November. There is no issue with accommodating their arrivals at the airport but we are mindful that there are existing COVID-19 Task Force requirements that must be worked out that is still in place to ensure the health and safety of our community and that there are sufficient accommodations for our guests to ensure that their visit is enjoyable and memorable,” she said.

In a previous interview with Iakopo, she said the two airlines were initially looking at launching their first flights to the CNMI as early as October but it seems those plans have been pushed back.

Iakopo said the two airlines initially sent feelers via letters back in September as a result of the success of the TRIP program.

“With the CNMI’s TRIP program growing in numbers by the day, two other South Korea-based airlines have started showing an interest in servicing a South Korea–Saipan route. Air Busan and Air Seoul, have reached out to MVA to participate in the Saipan-South Korea Travel Bubble program. We received an official letter from Air Busan and Air Seoul in their interest in wanting to fly here,” she said.

The managing director said this interest in the CNMI is thanks to the fact that the CNMI is the safest travel destination amid this ongoing pandemic. “It very well shows that not only are we a safe destination, but also that the CNMI is a great interest in South Korea,” she said.

In addition, Iakopo said that many of the MVA’s existing partners such as T’way Airlines, Asiana Airlines, and Jeju Air have expressed interest in adding additional flights to accommodate the growing number of TRIP participants.

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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