Citing its potentially crippling effect on families on Rota, Sen. Teresita A. Santos (Ind-Rota) is appealing to Star Marianas Air Inc. to reconsider its decision to increase airfares and even lower it.
The senator said that, according to the SMAI website, the fare for flights between Saipan and Tinian will increase from $55 per passenger to $60, while the fare between Saipan and Rota will increase from $125 to $135. The increase will take effect beginning this Sunday, Aug. 1.
In a letter to Christian last Thursday, Santos appealed for SMAI’s humanitarian assistance by reevaluating the increase, citing the CNMI’s current financial state and the imminent end to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Federal Unemployment Compensation programs.
The senator said the fare increase, coupled with the high cost of living on Rota, will financially cripple many families, most especially the interisland medical referral patients seeking immediate medical attention that is unavailable on the island.
She said some of these patients do not qualify for referral services, thus the burden is even greater.
“Any increase in fare is not in the best interest of our traveling public. At this point, any relief will be welcomed and greatly appreciated,” Santos said.
The senator urged SMAI to avail of the Commonwealth Ports Authority’s incentives implemented for airlines.