Cape Air operates final flight

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The airline that services Rota from Guam and Saipan officially stopped its services to the CNMI yesterday.

Cape Air ran its final flight to Saipan-Guam, Rota-Guam, and Rota-Saipan yesterday after 50 years of service.

According to Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Chris Concepcion, it was a sad day for the CNMI and Micronesia’s airline industry but he is still thankful for Cape Air’s service.

“We are sad to see Cape Air leave the CNMI at a time when their multiple daily flights between the CNMI and Guam are badly needed…We thank them for their many years of service to Rota and Saipan. We are hopeful they are able to return in the future,” he said.

Although it was sad to witness Cape Air operate its last flight, Concepcion said the CNMI is still fortunate to welcome United Airlines’ jet service to Saipan.

“We extend our warm welcome to United Airlines as they resume jet service between Saipan and Guam on June 1. United has not had mainline service to Saipan in many years so this is an important milestone in our relations with them,” he said.

A United Airlines statement in a previous Saipan Tribune article said that the new Saipan-Guam routes would depart Guam at 7am and arrive on Saipan at 7:45am and depart Saipan at 8:45am and arrive in Guam at 9:30am. That’s will be the only once-daily service between the two routes.

“If there are opportunities to increase frequency to more than one daily flight, we are eager to work with them on that. The future of the airline industry looks bright for the CNMI as we see new players emerging on the scene now,” said Concepcion.

Sen. Teresita Santos (R-Rota) was able to take the final flight out from Saipan to Rota yesterday. She described the experience as extremely emotional and sentimental.

“Cape Air’s last flight today was a sentimental and emotional flight as it was accorded with water salute by both Saipan and Rota CPA, airport and Cape Air employees, [Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services], and residents of Rota waving their hands as they watched Cape Air go airborne on its last flight to Guam,” she said.

On behalf of the people and leaders of Rota, Santos said she wanted to express her gratitude and appreciation to Cape Air/United Express for providing essential air service and community support to the CNMI, most especially to the people and island of Rota.

“For over a period of 14 years of essential air service, Cape Air/United Express has increased its air passenger flights and has consistently supported the CNMI with air transportation service,” she said.

According to Santos, Cape Air/United Express has also been recognized for outstanding philanthropy in the community it serves.

“Cape Air/United Express has contributed to Rota man’amko events, participated on annual Christmas lighting at the Benjamin T. Manglona International Airport, book drive for Sinapalo Elementary and Grace Christian Academy, provided cargo space for Rota annual fiestas, to name a few,” she said.

Santos hopes that United Airlines reconsiders the CNMI’s appeal so Cape Air would continue to serve the CNMI by providing air passenger service to its people, patients, and visitors alike.

“The discontinuance of Cape Air’s essential air service to Rota will be devastating to our economic opportunities, including loss of jobs for those who are currently working for Cape Air and other affected stakeholders. In addition, it would cost a fortune for Rota passengers to travel to Guam when there is no direct air passenger service from Rota to Guam and return,” she said.

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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