Torres: We are dependent on flights
The CNMI as a tourist destination attracts visitors who would come if there are regular and reliable flights as there are no other means to reach the islands.
In a recent interview, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said the Commonwealth is dependent on flights and that is why he is set to fly to Japan next month to assure Delta Air Lines of the special relationship the CNMI has with it.
“We are in constant communication with the president [of Delta Air Lines] and we acknowledge and appreciate all the services that Delta has done here in the CNMI. For our part, we will continue to provide additional resources and support to Delta Air to prevent them from pulling out of the CNMI,” said Torres.
Delta Air Lines announced last Sept. 18 that it is pulling out its Guam-Narita service effective January 2018.
In an official statement, Delta Air Lines corporate communications department’s Hiroko Okada said the demand for the Narita-Guam flights has not been strong enough to sustain the route.
Early this month, United Airlines announced it will terminate its Guam-Sapporo route effective Jan. 15, 2018, and flights from Palau to Yap will end on Jan. 7, 2018.
Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Chris Concepcion said that tourism is heavily dependent on airlift and that this is a legitimate concern for the CNMI.
“That is why I think that flight cuts will be a really important topic that the three different authorities (MVA, Guam Visitors Bureau and Palau Visitors Authority) can discuss.”
“Delta Air is pulling out of Guam. We can see that Guam especially has been getting hit pretty hard with flight reductions from Japan starting in January. So far as the CNMI and Palau are concerned, they are maintaining presence so we are okay on that front,” he added.
According to Concepcion, there is a domino effect because United Airlines made the announcement that they are eliminating Sapporo-Guam flights the same time flights from Guam-Manila and Palau-Yap flights are also being eliminated starting January 2018.
“So as far as CNMI is concerned our challenge is airlift from Japan side. We are working closely with Delta Airlines of course. We very pleased that they decided to maintain presence in the CNMI. We want additional airlifts particularly in un-served cities in Japan like Osaka and Nagoya and hopefully in the next months we can get new flights from those critical markets,” he said.
“Delta Airlines right now is concentrating on the Tokyo-Saipan flight which we are happy to help because it is the last link that the CNMI has with the Japan market,” he added.