Jeju Air’s resumption of international flights to the CNMI is another great step forward in the recovery of the islands’ tourism industry following the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yutu last month, according to Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Christopher A. Concepcion.
Concepcion said Korea remains the CNMI’s No. 1 source market and Jeju Air is the first airline to resume flights from Korea after Super Typhoon Yutu’s destruction last Oct. 24 and 25.
“We applaud them and thank them for their efforts and support. We still have a long way to go for all flights to resume regular service from Korea,” he told Saipan Tribune over the weekend.
Before Yutu, Jeju Air operated two daily flights from Seoul and one from Busan, Concepcion said, so this is only the first step for them.
“They will resume their nighttime flight from Seoul and Busan in the coming months so we eagerly anticipate that happening soon,” he said.
South Korea, the CNMI’s top market in tourist arrivals, is back as Jeju Air resumed international flights to Saipan, arriving at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport last Tuesday afternoon with 168 passengers. Jeju Air came from Incheon, outh Korea.
MVA marketing manager Thomas Kim said the CNMI should see the numbers of visitors grow rapidly under the Korea market.
Concepcion disclosed that Asiana Airlines will resume flights later this month, while T’Way will return to the CNMI in March 2019. T’Way is a low-cost Korean airline that started offering daily flights to and from Korea in 2016.
“We are doing our best to push behind the scenes to have them resume [as soon as possible],” said Concepcion, adding that the CNMI’s economy relies heavily on tourism; without flights there is no industry to speak of.
Concepcion said the MVA and their partners are working overtime to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. “It’s been very challenging but we are seeing positive results thus far. The CNMI is resilient and we will get through this one day at a time. I have no doubt,” he said.
Jeju Air joins Sichuan Airlines, which resumed international flights to the CNMI last Tuesday, arriving at the Saipan airport from Guangzhou, China.
China Eastern Airlines also resumed international flights last Wednesday, from Beijing, China.
Beijing Capital Airlines resumed flights last Thursday afternoon from Hangzhou, China.
Hong Kong Airlines resumed flights last Thursday midnight, from Hong Kong. Sichuan Airlines’ flight also arrived Thursday morning from Shanghai, China.
HK Express was the first commercial airline to resume international flights to the CNMI after Super Typhoon Yutu’s destruction on Saipan and Tinian last Oct. 24 and 25. The airline arrived on Saipan last Nov. 23 with a full load of 180 passengers.