Japanese carrier Skymark Airlines Inc. launched direct daily flights from Tokyo to the Marianas on Nov. 29, 2019, marking what is expected to be a revival of Japanese tourism to Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and other officials from the Marianas joined Skymark Airlines president Masahiko Ichie at a flight launch ceremony at Narita International Airport before taking the three-and-a-half-hour flight to the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport, where passengers were greeted by an entourage led by Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios. Miss Marianas 2019 Shannon Sasamoto and island children also presented shell leis and other gifts to arriving passengers.
“This is the day we have been looking forward to for many years,” said Torres. “With the arrival of Skymark’s daily direct flights, the Marianas is ready to welcome back our Japanese visitors to our beautiful islands. …This is truly a great day in our Commonwealth’s history.”
The flights are the only direct service between the Marianas and its once dominant source market for tourists. The flight arrival was followed by a press conference at the airport, where Torres expressed his thanks to the airline for choosing the Marianas as its first international destination. A reception was held that evening at Hyatt Regency Saipan.
“The Marianas Visitors Authority is committed to supporting the revival of the Japan tourism market with marketing and promotions support,” said MVA managing director Priscilla M. Iakopo. “It remains our objective to have a diversification of tourism source markets to help ensure the stability of our Marianas tourism economy. The return of Japan is a much-needed part of that diversification, and we look forward to welcoming more Japanese visitors to Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.”
The flights depart Tokyo daily at 10:15am, arriving at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport at 3pm. In addition to its regular three-tiered fare types, Skymark has introduced a “Saipan Special” to mark the launch of the new route. The special is for travel through March 28, 2020, and offers one-way travel originating on Saipan starting at $38 (fuel surcharge and tax additional). (MVA)