The first Saipan-based Korean airline to provide daily charter flights to and from Japan will launch their inaugural flight on Aug. 1, 2018.
The pullout of Delta Airlines early this year resulted in a steady outflow of Japanese tourists that left the CNMI in dire need of a Japan flight.
Fortunately, while there is no direct flight to Japan in place yet, Korean airlines are stepping up to service the Japan market until a direct Japan flight is confirmed.
During an interview with Jin Air regional manager Hong Gyu Hur, he confirmed that this would be the first time a Korean airline has agreed to provide air service to a Japan market.
“This is for the first time especially for a Korean airline. All Korean airlines have no experience in chartering flights from Japan…this is the first to try from our side,” he said.
Hur said that the first charter flight will launch on Aug. 1 and will continue on for 25 days on a daily scheduled route.
The aircraft that will service the Japan-Saipan flight will be a Boeing 737-800 that will be able to hold up to 189 passengers, excluding the crew.
According to Hur, Jin Air partnered with a tourism agency in Japan in order to send people to Saipan on these chartered flights.
When asked what inspired Jin Air to take the plunge and become the first Korean airline to charter a Japan route, Hur said that Jin Air just wanted to continue bringing in Japanese tourists to the CNMI despite the lack of a direct flight.
“This is the good moment to try this outright…and we should continue to promote Saipan to tourists,” he said.
The Jin Air charter flight is scheduled to arrive on Saipan at 3pm every day and depart at 4:20pm every day.
According to a previous interview with Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Chris Concepcion, Asiana Airlines and Jeju Air will also provide Japan chartered flights as early as this Friday, July 13.
“Jin Air will launch 23 summer charters beginning Aug. 1 from Tokyo-Narita to Saipan. Asiana Airlines will also operate five charters from Tokyo-Narita to Saipan in August. Jeju will operate a flight from Nagoya to Saipan on July 13,” he said.
Concepcion said, in behalf of MVA, they are pleased with the success they have achieved in the mission to secure a direct flight to and from Japan.
“The MVA has been working tirelessly to bring additional flights from Japan so we are pleased with the success we’ve had thus far. Japan remains a pillar of our tourism industry even with limited flight options and we remain optimistic about the future of this key source market with the upcoming entry of a new airline soon,” he said.
Concepcion said that the remainder of this fiscal year would see further drops in arrivals from Japan.
“As expected with limited flights so we seek community support to ensure our visitors are given the best experience when vacationing in the CNMI,” he said.