MVA, Awaodori team welcome Skymark’s charter flight

Marianas Visitors Authority staff and members of the Saipan Awaodori Team welcomed passengers aboard Skymark Airlines Inc.’s summer charter flights from Tokyo that started arriving last Friday afternoon.

As soon as the 88 visitors entered the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport, they were presented shell leis and coconut chips provided by MVA staff, members of the Saipan Awaodori Team, and officials of PDM Promoters Inc..

Kamiya Tatsuro, 58, a Japanese newspaper writer, and his wife were among Friday’s passengers, which came from Narita International Airport.

Tatsuro, who is from Tokyo and a repeat visitor to the CNMI, said the flight went well. He said he and his wife will be on Saipan for four days. He said he loves diving on the island, which is why he visits here every year.

PDM Promoters Inc. official Hideaki Sawada said that although the 88 passengers comprised just half of the 177 available seats, they are happy to have visitors from Japan.

“It’s better than nothing. We need Japanese tourists,” said Sawada, adding that they will welcome all of Skymark’s six flights in August and three flights in September.

Saturday’s Skymark’s charter flight had about 100 passengers, Sawada said.

Commonwealth Ports Authority executive director Christopher Tenorio said in an interview Friday that Skymark’s charter flights are good for the CNMI economy.

“It’s good for all of us. We are getting additional charter flights from Japan,” Tenorio said.

The charter flights started last Friday and will be arriving daily until Aug. 17, and from Sept. 20 to 25. Skymark will operate B737-800 planes for the charters, each offering 177 economy class seats. Five travel agencies who sold Skymark charter flights last March and April are again selling the August and September flights.

CPA board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds said CPA is happy to see friends from Skymark resume services between Japan and the CNMI.

Skymark is still working on having regular daily flights to Saipan.

MVA managing director Priscilla M. Iakopo earlier stated that the revival of the Japan market remains a marketing and promotions priority for the MVA, as the market is critical to the growth of the CNMI’s tourism economy.

Last March 22, Skymark made a historic touchdown on Saipan with a chartered B737-800 plane carrying 173 passengers, making it the first Japanese carrier to fly directly to Saipan since Japan Airlines withdrew from the CNMI in 2005.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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