Jeju Air charter arriving Monday
While the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport is getting ready to open and accept international flights by July 15, flights from Asia would not be coming until September 2020.
As this developed, the Commonwealth Ports Authority board of directors adopted Wednesday a resolution that provides 50% discount on the 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 on the day of the board meeting, July 1, and will last until Dec. 31, 2020. However, CPA executive director Chris Tenorio is authorized to amend the discounts at any time to reflect any changed circumstances related to COVID-19.
CPA board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds said in an interview that it’s not only Skymark Airlines Inc. that is extending the suspension of flights until September, but also all airlines from China and South Korea.
King-Hinds said the only flight that is scheduled to come in is Jeju Air, which has a charter flight arriving this Monday, July 6.
“We are hearing that they [JeJu Air] might have another charter flight the following month but we have not received any confirmation,” she said.
King-Hinds said that, pursuant to the requirements of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, CPA can only give discount to airlines based on the of loss of revenue. Right now, the maximum that they can give is actually 96% discount because United Airlines and Star Marianas are still operating.
“But other than that, yes, 50% discount. We are open to giving more if necessary. We just want to be here…for our airline industry partners who we’re hoping to come back soon and we can get this economy going again,” King-Hinds said.
She said the discount also applies to commuter airlines such as Star Marianas and United Airlines. “They’re struggling too, even though they are in operation, and so hopefully this will give them some sort of a break,” she said.
According to the CPA board resolution, CPA has experienced a dramatic reduction in visitor arrivals and these declines have led to a drastic and immediate decline in airport revenues. The resolution recognizes that the operation of international air carriers in the CNMI is crucial to the economic sustainability of both CPA and the entire CNMI as a tourism-based economy. The COVID-19 global pandemic has decreased the volume of international traffic at CPA’s airports by 96%.The resolution says CPA’s airports are located in an isolated market that does not permit CPA to establish fees high enough to recover aeronautical costs but also low enough to attract customers. It states that the COVID-19 global pandemic has significantly affected the profitability of airlines operating in the CNMI, as evidenced by an airline’s payment deferral request.
In reading the resolution, King-Hinds said the COVID-19 global pandemic has required CPA to implement “unpleasant and unavoidable” austerity measures.
King-Hinds said the funds received through the CARES Act will ensure that CPA’s revenue bond debt service obligations will not be affected if certain airport fees and charges are discounted.
She said CPA must temporarily discount fees to ensure that air services will continue to be provided to the public, that CPA remains solvent, and that CPA can continue the safe operation of its airports.
Aside from King-Hinds, the resolution was approved by the other directors: Thomas P. Villagomez, Pete P. Reyes, Ramon A. Tebuteb, Barrie C. Toves, and Joseph M. Diaz. Director Roman T. Tudela abstained.