Asiana Airlines, the CNMI’s longest operating international airline, celebrated last Saturday its 30th year in the CNMI, with government officials and stakeholders converging at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport to show their appreciation to Asiana and its commitment to the Marianas.
Asiana Airlines hosted its anniversary celebration last Saturday at the airport with members for the CNMI Legislature, Marianas Visitors Authority, Commonwealth Ports Authority, and other CNMI stakeholders.
According to Intak Hwang, general manager for Asiana Airlines Saipan Office, the 30 years that the airline has been flying to the CNMI has had many challenges—challenges that nearly resulted in Asiana completely shutting down its Saipan office a few times—but, with the support of the CNMI community as a whole, they have continued their services for three decades and aims to expand those services.
“We are the only full-service carrier operating on Saipan right now. And we’ve been servicing for 30 years. I really appreciate the support from the community. I really feel great that we’ve been providing our services for 30 years. We never stopped servicing until the [COVID-19] pandemic. I believe we stopped flying for about one year and three months. We had to stop due to the pandemic, but with the support of the local government, MVA, and CPA, we were able to resume the flight back to normal operations, which is now we’re upgrading twice a week. And we’re planning to add more flights later,” he said.
In a brief statement from CPA chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds, she said she it was a tremendous moment to witness Asiana celebrate its 30th year of servicing the CNMI, given all the struggles they’ve faced, from economic to typhoons and, recently, COVID-19.
“Being able to sit here and to witness Asiana making it through 30 years of many different hardships, and for all of us to be here to witness this moment, it’s tremendous. Congratulations to them. It’s always been CPA’s goal throughout this pandemic to find a way for us to see the pandemic through together. And unlike any other jurisdiction, you know, we shared our CARES Act funding, whatever we got from the federal government, we passed the savings to our partners and I hope that that has contributed to them being able to make it this far as well. So we’re really excited about them turning 30 And we look to 30 more years,” she said.
Former MVA board member Jerry Tan shared that Asiana has changed the landscape for the Korean market in the CNMI, stating that it was thanks to Asiana’s commitment and many investments that the Korean market has flourished and became one of the CNMI’s largest tourism market to date.
“It was Asiana about 15 years ago that actually changed the whole landscape of the Korean provider. At one time, we were getting about 60,000 tourists a year. Now we’re getting 500% more or well over 300,000 and it has become our leading market before the pandemic. Asiana also has been servicing us during a pandemic, whether it is to evacuate Korean nationals or to bring in COVID-related supplies. Asiana has been here with us. So I just want to recognize and thank Asiana,” he said.
Acting MVA board chair Gloria Cavanaugh echoed Tan and added that Asiana has, and will always be, considered part of the CNMI family.