The Commonwealth Ports Authority has been working on helping the 130 tourists who were left behind following the abrupt suspension of Hong Kong Express flights earlier this month.
During a CPA board committee meeting yesterday at the Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting classroom in Koblerville, board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds said that, soon after finding out that there are tourists stranded on Saipan following HK Express’ recent flight suspension, CPA took it into their hands to reach out to the airline.
Although the “unfortunate incident” is out of CPA’s jurisdiction, they will still help in any way they can, King-Hinds said.
“We’ve communicated with Hong Kong Express [and] their ground handler, POI Aviation, and they’re aware that there are 120 passengers here. Now, obviously, this is not an airport issue. It is an airline carrier issue but we have to be proactive in terms of trying to help these people out because they’re stuck here through no fault of their own,” she said.
King-Hinds said CPA has also been in contact with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and they have also been made aware of the issue with these soon-to-be overstaying tourists. She said that CPA has been communicating with the CBP. “They are well aware of the situation.”
King-Kinds said the government administration is also on top of the situation since there are other possible complications, like overstaying a tourist visa.
“Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is on top of the situation. He has communicated with Hong Kong Express. There are other implication and, as far as visa waiver restrictions, they can only be here for 14 days and so we’ve got to help them out. There are about 130 passengers from our last communications that are stranded here on Saipan as a result of the suspension of flights from Hong Kong Express,” King-Hinds said.
If needed, the Torres administration is ready to reach out to the Chinese consulate itself to get assistance for the repatriation of their citizens, she said.
“The next step basically, if Hong Kong Express doesn’t voluntarily come back and bring out these 120 passengers, the governor is ready to communicate directly with the Chinese Consulate to get some sort of assistance to figure out how to bring these people back home,” she said.