Star Marianas resumes interisland travel

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Star Marianas Airlines Inc. has resumed air service for the islands of Tinian and Rota on a charter basis following Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ issuance of a state of emergency.

This comes even as the emergency transport of medical referral patients from Tinian and Rota starts today, Dec. 10, via chartered flights with Micronesian Air.

Starting yesterday, Star Marianas Air returned to operation, providing organized charters among the three islands.

In a short statement from Star Marianas president Shaun Christian, he explained that the state of emergency Torres issued late Wednesday evening left Star Marianas under the impression that all Commonwealth Ports Authority’s imposed fees have been suspended. This was their main condition to CPA for them to resume interisland travel.

From here, Christian said, they are just waiting for the go-signal from the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow them to resume regular flight service.

“We were made aware last night that the governor issued a state of emergency, so we resumed charter flights. Upon receiving permission to resume from the U.S. Department of Transportation, we plan to start scheduled service again. We are under the impression that the governor’s state of emergency addresses the fee suspension. We aren’t able to speak to the specifics of the state of emergency, but that was our impression in reading it,” he said.

CPA chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds said that CPA is working on a long-term fix so that a situation like this, where all interisland travel ceases due to a dispute, does not happen again.

“This situation will keep reoccurring if you have a monopoly that can unilaterally decide when to start and stop services without notice. The long-term fix is subsidizing interisland routes. And that why we’ve asked the federal government for EAS designation,” she said.

Meanwhile, as a result of the ongoing dispute and uncertainty of when daily flights will resume for the islands of Tinian and Rota, the Governor’s Office, in consultation with the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., Tinian Health Center, Rota Health Center, the Office of the Mayor of Tinian and Aguiguan, and the Office of the Mayor of Rota have identified an air carrier service, Micronesian Aviation Systems, Inc. dba Micronesian Air, to prioritize the transport of medical referral patients from Tinian and Rota beginning today, Dec. 10, via chartered flights.

Non-medical referral patients may be accommodated subject to seat availability on a first-come, first-serve basis. Non-medical referral passengers will be allowed one luggage up to 30 lbs. Any excess cargo will be subject to space availability on the aircraft.

A valid photo identification is required and must be submitted upon confirmation of chartered flight arrangements.

Non-medical referral passengers interested in this service must call (670) 783-4455 or (670) 285-0196 for further information; however, essential travel will be prioritized.

Micronesian Air will be available on a chartered basis until such time daily flights resume.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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