Torres notes CNMI-United Airlines strong partnership

Says he’s very excited with Saipan-Japan direct flights, but also concerned with COVID-19 situation

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said Friday that the CNMI’s partnership with the United Airlines is strong and that he is very excited with its inaugural direct flight between Saipan and Narita, Japan, today, Thursday, but at the same time also concerned because of the COVID-19 situation.

Torres, in response to a question during a press briefing about the start of the United Airlines’ Japan-Saipan direct flights, said he is excited because not only this will bring tourists from Japan, but also the opportunity for locals to travel abroad.

He said this makes very convenient for locals as they can use United Airlines via Japan and then out to the U.S. mainland.

“So I’m very excited for that part. I am concerned obviously because we’re not out of the woods with COVID, and especially with Japan we continue to monitor that,” the governor said.

With CNMI’s TRIP Japan Program, United Airlines will provide direct flights between Saipan and Narita, Japan for six months starting today. The plane is expected to arrive Saipan tomorrow, Friday, at 2am.

Marianas Visitors Authority’s Travel Resumption Investment Plan chair Ivan Quichocho had earlier disclosed the direct flight service is for six months, but their agreement allows an extension for up to one year.

Torres said he is hoping that they can strengthen that partnership with Japan government and that a discussion with Travel Bubble Program is perhaps on its way.

Torres said he worked really hard with MVA to bring back the Japanese market through Skymark Airlines Inc.

He said through negotiation, they managed to bring back the Japan market and Skymark was doing very well until the COVID-19 pandemic came.

The governor said unfortunately, Skymark has its own challenges domestically.
“So now we have a partner with United,” said Torres who described it as a strong partnership.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at
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