The Commonwealth Ports Authority board of directors unanimously approved Thursday last week an airline incentive program that aims to encourage new airlines to operate in the CNMI.
In a board meeting presided over by CPA acting chair Thomas P. Villagomez, CPA board airport operations committee chair Barrie C. Toves moved to officially adopt the carrier incentive program.
Toves said the board has discussed and deliberated on the program for several months now and that they should already act on it, as it is very much needed, especially for the island of Rota.
All five board directors approved the program.
In an interview after the meeting, Toves gave credit to board finance committee chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds, who took the lead in looking into implementing the program. He said the purpose of the program is to entice new airlines to come in.
“For example, for Rota and Tinian, there is only one operator. So we want to give this incentive to any new airline that wants to come in and do domestic inter-island,” Toves said.
With the pullout of Delta Air Lines, the CNMI lost a direct connection to Japan, he said.
Delta Air Lines officially operated its last flight between Saipan and Japan last May.
Toves said a new airline that will replace Delta will be entitled or qualified to participate in that program.
Under the program, he explained, during the first year the airline will get 75 percent discount on all tariffs or landing fees and the second year will be a 50-percent discount.
On the third year, the airline will be charged in full.
“We adopted the program today, so it is up to the [CPA] management now to implement it and advertize it,” he said.
Toves said they have been trying to push this airline incentive program since last March.
In the last board’s meeting last March, the CPA committee announced to the board that they are finalizing the incentive program.
“It’s been six months and, in between that time period, we never anticipated that Cape Air and United Airlines would be going to sever ties,” he said.
Toves said the whole intention of the program was to convince Cape Air to increase its number of flights from Rota to Guam andRota to Saipan.
“So we were not ready to receive the bad news that Cape Air was leaving. It [was] a wrong timing for us. But if we implement this program and Cape Air is ready and capable, they can now be qualified to participate in the program and receive the discounts,” he said.
Cape Air, the airline that services Rota from Guam and Saipan, officially stopped its services to the CNMI last May.