Although there has been no official communication yet, the reported plan of Air Asia Philippines to provide air service to Saipan and Guam would be welcome, according to both the Marianas Visitors Authority and the Commonwealth Ports Authority.
Responding to stories reported by regional media, MVA managing director Priscilla M. Iakopo said yesterday that Air Asia Philippines’ launch of air services will provide additional flights for Philippine tourists who would like to visit the Marianas.
This will also provide convenient services for CNMI residents who want visit the Philippines, especially those seeking medical care in the Philippines, said Iakopo, when asked for comments about the reported plan.
CPA board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds affirmed that she did see reports in the media about Air Asia Philippines intent to service Guam and the CNMI, but said that they have not had any official communications from the airline stating its interest.
If true, it would be very exciting to have direct flights from Saipan to Manila, she said.
“And I hope that they are successful in their efforts to secure and meet all the necessary federal requirements to be able to establish the routes,” King-Hinds said.
Philippine and Guam-based newspapers reported Friday that Air Asia Philippines, a budget airline, has sought the permission of the Civil Aeronautics Board—the Philippine aviation regulatory agency—to fly to the United States. The papers quoted CAB director Camerlo Arcilla as saying that Air Asia Philippines plans to fly to U.S. territories such as Guam and Saipan, and not the U.S. mainland.
Air Asia Philippines is the Philippine affiliate of AirAsia, a low-cost airline based in Malaysia. Aside from Philippine domestic flights, the airline operates international flights.