Korean airlines launch rescue flights for stranded tourists


The CNMI’s Korean airline partners have launched rescue flights starting yesterday to bring home tourist who were left stranded on Saipan as a result of Typhoon Mawar.

The slow approach of Typhoon Mawar caused the CNMI’s airline partners to cancel daily flights in an out of the CNMI in the last few days. Due to these cancellations, many tourists were left stranded on Saipan.

However, according to an update from the Commonwealth Ports Authority, Korean airline partners like T’Way Air, Jeju Air, and Asiana Airlines have launched rescue flights for these tourists starting yesterday.

At around 10:45pm yesterday, T’way flew in one rescue flight from Incheon to Saipan.

Jeju, on the other hand, launched two rescue flights yesterday evening. The first rescue flight, which was also expected to bring passengers, was set to arrive at 10:40pm while the second was set to arrive shortly after at around 12:50pm.

Meanwhile, Asiana has scheduled two rescue flights for today. The first rescue flight is expected 2:40pm while the second flight, also expected to bring in passengers, is set to arrive at around 4:30pm.

All three Korea-based airlines expect to resume regular flights today.

Meanwhile United Airlines has cancelled all flights to Saipan since last Wednesday until today. They have not reported any rescue flights or if there was a need for one as of press time.

During yesterday’s press conference, Gov. Arnold I. Palacios briefly spoke about the stranded tourists and confirmed that CPA has informed the administration of the rescue flights.

“To me, it was probably a wild experience for our tourists. It’s not every day that you experience a typhoon. It was also pretty safe as Saipan was spared and they got to spend an extra day on the island,” he said.

Domestic flights

As of press time, Star Marianas has cancelled all inter-island flights and will remain canceled until further notice.

Airport updates

Commonwealth Port Authority executive director Christopher Tenorio has reported that CNMI airports are fully operational, with the exception of Rota’s Benjamin Manglona Taisacan International Airport, which is only operational during daylight hours.

“CPA’s day operations team is working diligently to address an ongoing lighting issue that affects operations during night-time conditions. Once this lighting issue is resolved, Benjamin Manglona Taisacan International Airport will be operational on a full-time basis,” said Tenorio.

According to him, the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport is fully operational and can accommodate any aircraft seeking to land. As of press time, there are no current issues or restrictions impacting its operational capabilities.

As for the Tinian International Airport, Tenorio said it is also fully operational and can accommodate any aircraft seeking to land. There are no current issues or restrictions impacting its operational capabilities.

As for the seaports, Tenorio said CPA is awaiting assessment from the U.S. Coast Guard to determine whether it is safe to lift the current port conditions.

“Once the assessment is complete and the Captain of the Port approves, the port conditions will be lifted, enabling normal operations at the seaports to recommence,” he 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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