Star Marianas Air Inc. will resume flight services between the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota starting tomorrow, Friday, more than a month after the carrier suspended its services.
Sen. Teresita Santos (Ind-Rota) said yesterday that some Rota residents have mixed feelings about that.
Star Marianas announced in its Facebook account that they recently received a favorable response from the U.S. Department of Treasury regarding their application for Air Carrier Workers Support under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, the federal law that outlines relief efforts nationwide
Star Marianas said that, as a precondition to be eligible for this program, airlines must operate scheduled flights to destinations served prior to March 1, 2020. In order to be in compliance with this federal requirement, Star Marianas said they will resume limited scheduled passenger operations from Saipan to Tinian and Saipan to Rota starting tomorrow, Friday.
Star Marianas said the health and wellbeing of their passengers and crew members is their top priority and, with that in mind, all passengers are being asked to wear masks at all times when flying with them.
“We would also like our customers to know that we are making every effort to provide a safe and healthy flying experience and have implemented regular sanitation of our aircraft’s frequently touched surfaces,” Star Marianas said.
Santos said that, since COVID-19 testing is not mandatory nor obtaining clearances prior to boarding is, the no-mask, no-entry rule and social distancing policys must be implemented and fully enforced when checking in, and waiting for departure at the commuter airport. This no-mask, no-entry rule should also apply when boarding and sitting in the airplane, she said.
Rota currently has no COVID-19 case.
The senator recommends that Star Marianas disinfect or sanitize its aircraft before and after use. She said information has been received that incoming passengers will be monitored through an alert information sheet.
Santos said the Rota Health Center will soon be holding community-based testing for COVID-19 for the people of Rota. Although there is no quarantine facility on Rota, she said that COVID-19 Task Force chair Warren Villagomez has indicated there is already a standing protocol in the event of a positive case.
“But we pray not to have any, that our people are free from this virus and a cure is made available at the earliest,” Santos said.
Star Marianas suspended its flights between Saipan, Tinian, and Rota starting last April 2, but continued to provide 24-hour emergency flight services for patient transfers and other transportation needs to support control efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 virus. It also continued to provide interisland air cargo services between the CNMI and Guam.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig, and Tinian Mayor Edwin Santos had requested Star Marianas Air to suspend the scheduled passenger flights between Saipan and Tinian and Saipan and Rota to help control the spread of the virus.
Last May 2, United Airlines resumed their Guam-Saipan flights after a month of suspending air services.