Star Marianas Airlines Inc., has resumed its scheduled interisland service following a meeting with the CNMI administration regarding airport usage fee subsidy.
According to a statement from Star Marianas president Shaun Christian, following Star Marianas’ meeting with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres last Tuesday, the airline would resume scheduled flights between Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
Effective yesterday, Star Marianas’ scheduled flights between Saipan and Tinian have resumed.
Meanwhile, scheduled flights between Saipan and Rota will resume today, Dec. 23.
For the updated flight schedules, visit the Star Marianas website at https://www.starmarianasair.com/passenger-flights. For reservations, contact the airline’s reservations office at (670) 433-9996/9997/9998 between 8am and 6pm daily.
In a previous letter to Commonwealth Ports Authority board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds, Christian said that Star Marianas opted to undertake discussions about subsidies directly with the Office of the Governor since the CPA has indicated that it has no discretion in terms of abating the fees and charges.
“It seems appropriate that Star Marianas undertake the discussions about subsidies directly with the Office of the Governor. As such, the subsidies and airfare prices should not present an obstacle to the continued cooperation between Star Marianas and the CPA,” he said.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, Star Marianas Air returned to operations last Dec. 10, providing organized charters between all the islands.
Christian explained that the state of emergency Torres issued over two weeks ago left Star Marianas under the impression that all CPA imposed fees have been suspended. This was their main condition to CPA for them to resume interisland travel.
From here, Christian stated, they are just waiting for a go-signal from the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow them to resume regular flight service.
For their part, King-Hinds reached out to the DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg to ask the department to make federal subsidy available to the CNMI through various programs offered by the DOT, including the Essential Air Service Program, the Alternative Essential Air Service Program, and the Small Community Air Service Development Program.
King-Hinds said the hope is that, by being designated as an EAS-eligible community, the CNMI will be able to establish affordable and reliable interisland air travel through subsidizing commuter and certificated air carriers to serve the Rota and Tinian airports.