Newly sworn in Commonwealth Ports Authority board member Ramon Tebuteb said yesterday that CPA needs to redevelop the small airport on Pagan.
In an interview, Tebuteb said that what he understands is that the small airport on Pagan falls under the jurisdiction of CPA.
“I think CPA needs to address that and take it one step at a time to the point that we also need to develop it or fix it up,” he said.
The existing airport on the island is presently covered in part with lava, but Tebuteb pointed out that small planes like the ones flying between Saipan and Tinian can still land over there.
Tebuteb was sworn in yesterday morning as a CPA board member. He immediately attended CPA committee meetings after taking his oath of office.
Tebuteb is a former Precinct 3 lawmaker. He was one for 15 years, once serving as a House speaker.
Tebuteb said a collective CPA board decision about the Pagan airport would be a good approach.
Right now, the island’s small airport is closed. Pagan used to be inhabited but its people were evacuated in 1981 due to volcanic eruptions.
Tebuteb has no information whether the CNMI government has already lifted the closure order it gave after the 1981 volcanic eruption.
Tebuteb has already gone to Pagan with a group that later visited the island and he recalls that the airport there was cleared for landing.
“I think there are still planes going out there once in a while,” he said.
Developing the airport for so-called “adventure tourists” would be good for the people of the Northern Islands and the CNMI in general, he said.
The ability for small airplanes to land on Pagan, Tebuteb said, will give access not only to Pagan but to the rest of the uninhabited islands in the Northern Islands.
As his being a new CPA board member, Tebuteb said he is committed to helping the ports authority’s mission.
Tebuteb said the ports are a reflection of the CNMI, since these are the gateways to the CNMI for visitors who come.
He has no CPA committee yet as he is still in the process of “getting acclimated.” He expressed an interest, though, in seaport or finance matters.