Start-up airline also looking at interisland travel via Wig Craft
Marianas Pacific Airlines, a start-up airline that aims to launch its services by 2022, is also working on acquiring three Wig Crafts, a type of seagoing vessel called “wing-in-ground effect Craft,” to provide interisland transportation by the third quarter of 2022.
According to Marianas Pacific’s Bill Giles, a Wig Craft is a vessel capable of flying up to 20 feet above water, making them more efficient for inter-island travel compared to regular boats and aircrafts.
“We can we can go up to 20 feet above and it’s classified as a boat so it doesn’t fall under Federal Aviation Administration regulations but under [the U.S.] Coast Guard. They’re many more times more efficient than either aircraft or boats,” he said.
Giles said Marianas Pacific sees great potential in operating Wigs in the CNMI because of its many neighboring islands.
“I think this could be a real big potential deal, ultimately because there’s no better place in the world than where we’re situated right now. We’re really looking forward to that. We actually have worked out a deal with them where we have manufacturing rights here on Saipan, CNMI,” he said.
Marianas Pacific aims to purchase three to start with, and each one will be able to carry up to 12 passengers and two crew members and sail at speeds of up to 85 mph.
“The first ones we’re getting will hold 12 passengers, two crew, and they’ll cruise at about 85 miles an hour. We can get from here to Tinian in a few minutes, and we can get from here to Rota in an hour. We are really looking forward to promote that as well,” Giles said.
He said Marianas Pacific hopes to have the Wigs in the CNMI as early as the third quarter of 2022.
“We’re expecting delivery eight months from the time of our financing, which we’re hoping is very soon,” he said.
Giles also mentioned that they will not take delivery of these crafts until they are U.S. Coast Guard-approved. “So it will be Coast Guard-approved. We will not take delivery of them until they are. We’re going through all that,” he said.
Giles shared that the company that Marianas Pacific is working with in terms of the manufacturing of these Wigs is called Universal Hovercraft based in the United States.
“The guys we’re working with have been building smaller version, like six passenger ones, for almost 20 years,” he said.
Marianas Pacific’s James Blake said the Wigs will not just benefit the people of the CNMI, but it will also give tourists the opportunity to visit neighboring islands like Tinian, Rota, Guam, and even Pagan once it is safe to travel there again.
“This creates a real opportunity to build a wonderful ‘Ireland Odyssey’ experience for international tourists. This product presents the opportunity for international tourists not just to visit Saipan, but to incorporate some of the other local islands as part of their holiday,” he said.
Currently, Wigs are being used in South Korea and Singapore for interisland travel.