No new date to reopen CNMI to int’l flights

Skymark extends suspension of Saipan-Narita flights until Oct. 24, 2020

A file photo of the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport, where the Commonwealth Ports Authority is putting together an action plan in preparation for yesterday’s supposed target date of reopening the CNMI to international flights. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

Yesterday’s target date to reopen the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport to international flights came and went and no new target date has yet to be determined, according to Commonwealth Ports Authority board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds.

As this developed, Skymark Airlines Inc. announced last Monday their decision to extend again the suspension of all flight operations between Narita and Saipan until Oct. 24, 2020 due to decreased travel demand due to the global COVID-19 outbreak.

“We will continue to give top priority to the safety of our flights,” Skymark said in its website’s announcement.

Citing the same reason, last month Skymark announced the extension of the suspension of all flights between Narita and Saipan until Sept. 30, 2020. The airlines started suspending the Japan-Saipan flights last March 26 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company’s original plan was that the suspension should only until May 10, 2020.

King-Hinds said yesterday was the target date to have the framework for the resumption of tourism in a way that provided the most safety for the population.

King-Hinds said the CNMI has established a lot of mitigation measures to provide for a safe opening and with the resumption and expansion of community COVID-19 testing, it was the hope that the Commonwealth can resume some level of tourism arrivals.

“However, this is an evolving situation and the path forward will require much consideration and conversation with our tourism and public health partners,” she said.

CPA is putting together an action plan in preparation for yesterday’s target date of reopening the CNMI to tourists, including barring individuals dropping off passengers at the departure terminal from entering the terminal at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.

CPA said flights from Asia would not be coming until September 2020.

The CPA board of directors has adopted a resolution that provides 50% discount in enplanement, deplanement, and landing fees to both signatory and non-signatory airlines, due to circumstances caused by the COVID-19.

The discounted rates took effect last July 1 until Dec. 31, 2020. However, CPA’s executive director is authorized to amend the discounts at any time to reflect any changed circumstances related to COVID-19.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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