Senator: CPA does not have master plan

Rota delegation met with CPA

Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar (R-Saipan) is requesting that he be invited to the next meeting between the Commonwealth Ports Authority and the Rota Legislative Delegation to discuss the situation of Rota while air services troubles continue.

Sen. Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota) informed Igisomar during the last moments of yesterday’s Senate session that CPA met with the local delegation on Wednesday.

Manglona noted that the agency cited the lack of professional expertise to apply for federal programs and exceptions and the need to amend a federal law exempting territories from essential air subsidies, among others, as their prime hindrances to their progress with resolving the loss of air services on Rota.

“I am hoping that the next time you have a meeting with CPA that you call me in there,” Igisomar told Manglona. “All of these reasons are [thousands of years old]. There is no master plan at the airport, senator Paul.”

Igisomar noted that the essential air services that the CPA was referring to as well as the CPA’s need for professional services were all “discussed in reports and were reported by the Senate Public Utilities and Transportation Committee.”

Igisomar chairs the Senate PUTC.

“I am respectfully requesting to…call me into that meeting,” Igisomar requested to Rota delegation chair Sen. Steve K. Mesngon (R-Rota).

Mesngon mentioned in a statement that Guam Gov. Eddie B. Calvo, Guam Sen. Wil Castro, Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), and Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) were all willing to help Rota get their air services back.

“Before U.S. Congress, Sablan, and Bordallo can help, it has to kick off from our end… The reason why this is not happening is because the dendrites are not connecting properly—there is no master plan to show that,” said Igisomar.

Sen. Teresita Santos (R-Rota) noted that in Wednesday’s meeting with CPA, they discovered that a new airline owed by a U.S. company based in Florida, named Micronesia Air Express, has submitted its request for approval to the U.S. Department of Transportation to have its routing of flights scheduled and have its aircrafts cleared and safe for passengers within the Commonwealth and Guam.

“The company has also sought approval from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration…to accommodate the passengers and their use of a [hangar] in the airport,” she said.

“Once the company gets the approval, it is anticipated that they may perhaps begin providing air passenger services between the Commonwealth and Guam by September,” reported Santos. “It is a development that remains to be seen.”

Igisomar in mid-June 2018 told Saipan Tribune that he is looking to conduct an oversight hearing over CPA as the Senate PUTC chairman. Igisomar noted in yesterday’s session that in order to progress form the situation, it should first begin.

United Airlines, in response to a letter sent by Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), offered proposals that included the addition of flights servicing Rota in exchange for annual subsidies that would cost the CNMI government between $1 million and $8 million.

Palacios noted that in order to move forward, all the options must first be recognized—including weighing discussions with other airlines such as Star Marianas Airlines, which does not currently have regular flights servicing Rota.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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