In the face of narrowed options for shipping to and from the Marianas region, Star Marianas Air has renewed its expression of interest in shipping U.S. mail for the CNMI.
According to Star Marianas Air president Shaun Christian, Star Marianas Air actually contacted the U.S. Postal Service a few years ago on the possibility of providing transportation for mail within the Marianas.
“We indicated we had aircraft and a willingness. …The USPS said that United [Airlines] was contracted by the USPS to provide mail transportation on routes they flew and sub-contracted routes they didn’t fly to qualifying airlines. They put us in contact with United Airlines’ person in charge of U.S. Mail, but at that time we did not have a base of operations [in] Guam and when we discussed mail carriage with United we had difficulty in understanding what kind of services they needed, so we were unable to come to an arrangement where we could bid on the service,” Christian said.
About a month ago, after the establishment of Star Marianas’ base of operations in Guam and the beginning of regular scheduled service from Guam, Christian reached out to the new postmaster on Saipan to let him know the airline’s interest in assisting with carrying mail, “as Tinian currently only receives mail twice a week [on] Tuesday and Friday carried by a Guam-based cargo company…”
Star Marianas has several daily flights between Saipan and Tinian.
In addition to reaching out to USPS, Christian sought the help of Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan’s office, who confirmed that United was responsible for administering mail-carrying contracts in the Pacific. Christian he was provided with contact information to contact USPS directly about the matter.
“Roughly two weeks ago I sent an email to United’s responsible person, providing them with an update of changes since our previous discussions, indicated we had received Commuter Authority from the U.S. Department of Transportation allowing us to operate scheduled flights to all the Mariana Islands, mentioned [that] our fleet of aircraft had increased since we last spoke, and explained that we now had a base of operations in Guam,” he said.
In light of USPS’ cost-cutting measures and the need for improved delivery times, Christian expressed confusion on the matter of a private company being responsible for administering contracts on behalf of USPS.
“I’ve located several regulations related to the bidding process when it comes to working directly with the USPS, but cannot locate anything related to what processes United would have to follow in sub-contracting mail transportation to other carriers on destinations United doesn’t serve [such as Tinian],” he said.
As an airline that relies on USPS for shipping aircraft parts and other items critical for the airlines operation, “we have a vested interest in seeing if we can do anything to improve the delivery times of the mail in the Marianas [but] I have not received any response from United…”
Star Marianas has not shipped any U.S. Mail to date and is still interested in future opportunities of assisting with the transportation of mail. He said any help in navigating through this unclear process is appreciated. He can be reached at email@example.com or (670) 433-9989.