The Rota Legislative Delegation urges the Senate to review and possibly support the idea of subsidizing a private airline to service Rota, which is in dire need of air transportation after United Airlines dropped the Rota route.
Delegation chair Sen. Steve Mesngon urged his fellow senators during a Senate session on Capital Hill last week for their “full support” of United Airlines’ proposal to serve Rota.
The United proposal outlines possible scenarios, which would all require the CNMI government to subsidize the flights for up to $8 million annually, depending on how frequent the flights to Rota will be each week.
Mesngon said that, with the stoppage of air services to Rota after United severed ties with code-share partner Cape Air, the airline servicing Rota, the medical patients of the island have been “impacted by this situation.”
Cape Air had its last flight to Rota on May 31, 2018.
“We have [already] seen an impact of what’s going on,” said Mesngon, reiterating his call for support of United’s proposals. “Please support [the proposal] to bring back the service, or any kind of service, to the island of Rota.”
Delegation member Sen. Teresita Santos (R-Rota) told Saipan Tribune that the Rota flight proposals were a response to the Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan) letter to the airline in early May 2018, requesting that they reconsider withdrawing from Rota.
“United Airlines’ response by offering four different proposals or options to the CNMI may be a sign of hope or relief that could address our critical need [for] continued essential air service to the CNMI, most especially to [the] island of Rota, which [was hit the hardest] after United Airlines’ recent termination of Cape Air’s operation to the CNMI,” she said.
United wants $1.1 million in annual support for twice weekly services to Rota, $2.2 million annually for four trips to Rota weekly, $4 million for two additional Guam-Saipan evening flights with a stop on Rota per trip, and $8 million for four weekly Guam-Saipan evening flights with a stop on Rota per trip.
“With this, it is incumbent that we identify the necessary resources, avenues, or actions in order to avail of United Airlines’ continued air passenger services to the CNMI at the soonest,” added Santos.