CPA: Star Marianas’ airfare increase is ‘unacceptable’

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The Commonwealth Ports Authority says Star Marianas’ recent increase in airfare from Saipan to Rota and Tinian is unacceptable for a number of reasons. Star Marianas says it is raising its prices effective Aug. 1.

According to CPA board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds, this is unacceptable because, first, Star Marianas haven’t made payments to CPA since 2015, and second, all CPA fees were waived since June up until December.

“At this time, it is unconscionable given the fact that one, you’re not paying anything. There’s a waiver on all these fees, and the fact of the matter is you’ve been increasing your rates citing the fact that CPA has been increasing rates and fees but you have not been paying. All this time, you haven’t been paying and you continue to increase your ticket prices. What’s the logic in that,” she said.

King-Hinds said since 2015, Star Marianas owes CPA around $2.3 million in enplanement fees, deplanement fees, landing fees, and various fees CPA imposes on all airline carriers doing business with CPA.

“This is the result of basically a monopoly in the industry so it’s difficult and it’s unfortunate that they’re doing this at a time when basically people are struggling. Not only at a time when people are struggling, but when you’re not paying a dime,” King-Hinds said.

The CPA chair said she expects Star Marianas to justify the increase as a result of the hike in fuel prices but all CPA fees have been waived 100%, so to CPA, an increase does not make sense.

“I anticipate Star Marianas to basically say, ‘Hey, we are increasing these fees as a result of the gas,’ which is fine but you’re not paying anything. And to top it off, all the fees are waived until December so from 2015 that you haven’t paid, and beginning June we waived all fees 100%, but you’re still increasing ticket prices. It doesn’t make sense,” she said.

According to the Star Marianas Air website, the fare for flights between Saipan and Tinian will increase to $60 from $55 while the fare for flights between Saipan and Rota will rise to $135 from $125.

The website also indicated that Star Marianas will continue to offer discounts to CNMI residents and military personnel who travel to and from Saipan and Tinian.

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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