Elected leaders of Tinian are opposing a plan by the U.S. Navy to place restrictions on the airspace in and around the Tinian International Airport.
Tinian Legislative Delegation chair Sen. Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian), Tinian and Aguiguan Mayor Edwin P. Aldan, and Tinian Municipal Council chair Thomasa P. Mendiola recently wrote acting Federal Aviation Administration administrator Daniel K. Elwell to express their concern.
“On behalf of the municipality, we are writing to express our strong opposition to a recent request made to the [FAA] in a memorandum sent to you, by the Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer,” said the Tinian leaders’ letter to Elwell.
Spencer’s memorandum to the FAA seeks to remove the protection from restrictive area designation for the airspace in and around the Tinian airport. The U.S. Department of Defense plans to develop the facility as part of an agreement they signed with the CNMI government.
Spencer’s letter pointed out that the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command has been conducting required environmental analysis for their proposed actions on Tinian and Pagan.
“…the people of Tinian stand united in our opposition to live fire training activities on our island for a number of reasons,” the Tinian officials said in their letter. “…it is our position that restricting air space, in and around Tinian, will jeopardize health, safety, welfare, and economic wellbeing of the people of Tinian.”
They said restricting airspace would affect Tinian’s residents since they rely heavily on immediate access to air transportation to and from Saipan and Rota, like emergency and other healthcare services.
“Restricting airspace in and around Tinian will lengthen flight times, thereby endangering the lives of our citizens who rely on air transportation to receive urgent critical health care. Moreover, these lengthened flight times will result in raising the cost of airfare for a pretty expensive inter-island commute.”
“This will undoubtedly impact our fragile tourism industry, which our municipality heavily relies on to generate revenues for an already depressed economy.”
The Tinian leaders said in the letter that restricted airspace within three nautical miles of a public airport is not allowed by FAA for the reasons they had mentioned, which is why they are asking the FAA to deny Spencer’s request.