‘Direct int’l flights to Tinian not feasible’


Although it has been the dream to build an international airport on Tinian that could welcome international flights, the reality is that it may not be possible right now due to the lack of accommodations on the island, according to the Commonwealth Ports Authority.

According to CPA chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds, the CPA board recently consulted with the Tinian leadership to get their input on how CPA should proceed with the use of the divert lease proceeds apportioned to the airport. The total amount for the divert lease is approximately $21.9 million. Of that amount, $21 million is apportioned to the airport and $900,000 is apportioned to the seaport.

King-Hinds explained that it has long been the dream to build an international airport on Tinian with infrastructure that can welcome direct flights. However, she said the reality is that it just might not be possible right now because there aren’t enough rooms for accommodation due to military activities on the island.

“$21 million is a lot of money but not enough money to build the dream airport that people were wishing for during the [Tinian] Dynasty [Hotel & Casino] days. The reality is, it doesn’t make sense to court direct international flights when we barely have enough hotel rooms to accommodate visitors with all these military construction activities,” she said.

King-Hinds explained that because of this, CPA, in collaboration with the Tinian leadership, must look at adjusting its previous plans and downscale considerably and make investments that are aligned with the island’s reality.

“The reality is, while these military activities are welcomed and can be beneficial economically, it’s not conducive to growing our local tourism industry. So, we are now looking at the master plan to make adjustments that would still allow for direct flights but not in the way people dreamed about 20 years ago,” King-Hinds said.

“Obviously, this is not a decision that CPA will make alone and that’s why we consulted with the Tinian leadership who represent the people to get their input and we all agree that this is a more realistic plan and best use of the $21 million,” she added.

Meanwhile, CPA, in consultation with the Tinian leadership, is currently using the $900,000 apportioned to the seaport to make improvements to the Tinian Marina, which includes the construction of bathrooms, paved parking lot, boat wash down, concrete pavilions, and a mural at the Tinian Marina.

“This area is frequently used by the community and so we see this as not only an investment in enhancing the location for commercial and tourism purposes; but also something that the community can directly benefit from and enjoy,” King-Hinds said.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores 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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