Tinian welcomes int’l flight

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The first international charter jet landed at the Tinian International Airport last Friday. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

SAN JOSE Tinian—A phalanx of CNMI and Tinian officials welcomed the first direct charter flight from Asia at the Tinian International Airport last Friday, with hopes that the arrivals would signal an influx of tourists to the island and the revival of its economy.

With Gov. Ralph DLG Torres himself at the head of the delegation, Tinian welcomed the first international flight from Hong Kong—a private jet—and celebrated the completion of the Tinian International Airport terminal that has been in the works for over a decade.

A total of nine people were aboard the flight, all of them investors, and Tinian Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas signified that he would be hosting them during the duration of their stay.

Torres said the event is a huge milestone not only for Tinian but for the entire Northern Marianas Islands.

“This [international flight] gives other investors the opportunity to [invest] here,” he said.

He commended the leadership of the Tinian municipality for pushing forward with the terminal project and finally making it happen, no matter how long it took.

“You have the right leadership, the right commitment, great resources, and you put that together, and here is the product of true leadership, that no matter where you are at and no matter what obstacles we have before us, we are able to fulfill it and we opened this kind of project,” said Torres.

Kimberly King-Hinds, the Tinian representative on the Commonwealth Ports Authority board, said that that Friday’s flight is only the beginning.

“I’m excited, it is a great day for Tinian, but really, this is a day to recognize that we still have a lot of work to do,” she said. “There is still much work to be done…as it relates to [Customs and Border Protection] and the [Transportation Security Administration] combined,” she added.

San Nicolas said it was a proud day for the island but he agrees that there is still much to be done.

San Nicolas is appreciative of all the government agencies that banded together to complete the terminal renovations that led to welcoming for the first Asian international flight.

“I am very happy as the mayor and I am happy for the people and we look forward to more progress as we move forward for our island and our Commonwealth,” said San Nicolas.

The next step for Tinian, according to San Nicolas, is the establishment of hotel rooms for guests and investors. The island’s biggest hotel, the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino, remains closed.

Tinian Entertainment Corp. owner Tim Chen chartered the flight from Hong Kong to Tinian.

“I just want to support Tinian… it is paradise…I love this island and I feel like I am part of Tinian island so I really want Tinian to be successful,” he said.

Chen said his companions on the trip were possible Tinian investors.

According to Chen, the flight took about four hours and it was different from the way he usually flies to Tinian. “Direct flights are much easier,” he said.

Chen told the media that he got onboard the project with the Tinian municipality about two years ago.

“We faced a lot of difficulty before…a lot of people said it was impossible, but we did it and we are so excited about that,” he said.

Kimberly Bautista | 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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