Lee Pan pushes for Cebu Pacific as budget carrier for the CNMI


Rep. Joseph “Lee Pan” Guerrero (R-Saipan) is seeking an audience with top executive of Cebu Pacific Air on the possibility of the low-cost Philippine carrier serving the Commonwealth.

Guerrero said he has sent an official letter to Lance Y. Gokongwei, CEO and president of Cebu Pacific, and has gotten an acknowledgment from the office of the executive.

In his letter, Guerrero said that travel to Manila is “very inconvenient” for the traveling public because “they have to fly from Saipan to Guam on a small 40-seater airplane then wait [in] Guam for several hours for connecting flights to the Philippines.”

Guerrero cited that “flight delays and cancellations are common occurrences causing sufferings to patients, many of whom are on a wheelchair.”

Manila is one of the preferred destinations for patients seeking treatment for cases that cannot be treated in the Commonwealth.

There are other flight options, either through Incheon in Korea or in Narita in Japan, but both routes also have “waiting time of 6 to 8 hours and with similar airfares,” the lawmaker said.

Guerrero said he is not seeking services on a daily basis “but at least 2 to 3 times a week to help our patients seeking medical treatment in your country.”

In the long term, Guerrero said, he would also like to invite Cebu Pacific “to consider flying your Japan flights to Osaka-Nagoya-Saipan-Manila.”

He cited that the CNMI “lost air connection in our Osaka and Nagoya gateways” that resulted in businesses losses for the tourism industry.

PAL flights
Last month, flag-carrier Philippine Airlines disclosed that it is looking at reviving its Manila-Saipan route by operating a new direct service between the Philippine capital and the CNMI capital starting December.

The new service is being eyed through its subsidiary, PAL Express network.

PAL is reportedly eyeing to offer two weekly flights to the Commonwealth. The carrier used to service the Manila-Saipan route in the early 1990s. (Joel Pinaroc)

Joel D. Pinaroc | Reporter
Joel Pinaroc worked for a number of newspapers in the Philippines before joining the editorial team of Saipan Tribune. His published articles include stories on information technology, travel and lifestyle, and motoring, among others. Contact him at joel_pinaroc@saipantribune.com.

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