Beijing Capital Airlines landed for the first time in the CNMI yesterday when its Airbus A330 aircraft with 240 passengers and crew flew in from Hangzhou, China and touched down at the Francisco C. Ada-Saipan International Airport at 2:45pm.
Marianas Visitors Authority marketing manager Bruce Bateman was present at the arrival area to greet the arriving passengers.
“It was fantastic. We are happy to be able to welcome all of them,” he said. “We had girls in traditional costume giving lei shell to everybody and Saipanda backpacks to all children. We thank Beijing Air and all of the partners on the China side that put the things together that made this flight possible.”
The Gong family was a part of the four-hour-and-a-half hour inaugural flight. “The aircraft was an Airbus A330. The flight was very comfortable,” said the father. “There was not much noise and the inflight service was very good.”
“We were excited because it’s our first time on Saipan. …We travel several times a year as a family and we will choose Beijing Air again with other trips,” he added.
The new airline promises to be an exciting venture for the MVA.
“Tourism drives the CNMI economy. We need tourism as our lifeblood and so we are happy to welcome all these tourists that come in. Hopefully new developers came along with the passengers who arrive today and make new hotels for us,” Bateman added.
Beijing Air was initially prevented by the Commonwealth Ports Authority board from flying to the CNMI.
“CPA was merely acting on the order that was given to them. Beijing Air was understandably unhappy about that but nobody is holding a grudge. No hard feelings at all. Everybody ironed all the differences and problems and luckily we were able to see the results of that today,” Bateman added.