Barrie C. Toves, who chairs the airport facilities committee of the Commonwealth Ports Authority board, has urged the CPA management to assist a San Francisco, California-based airline company with its plan to operate on Rota.
Toves said that Rota was left to suffer when Cape Air pulled out of the CNMI, and that the air service that Star Marianas Airlines currently provides is not enough.
“It’s very problematic for the traveling public coming from Rota,” said Toves during a special meeting held Friday at the Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting classroom of the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.
Toves asked CPA executive director Christopher S. Tenorio and deputy executive director Edward Mendiola to work on making this airline’s plan to operate on Rota a reality “for the sake of the island of Rota and its economy.”
Toves, who is representing Rota on the CPA board, did not disclose the name of the interested airline company.
Last June, Toves disclosed that representatives of a “U.S. flag airline” did a fact-finding mission in the CNMI in May and expressed a commitment to return and provide interisland services.
Toves hinted that this airline is affiliated with United Air and possibly American Airlines too.
He said this airline wants to build a maintenance hangar on Saipan for their aircrafts so they can provide interisland services between Saipan and Tinian, and between Saipan and Rota and Guam.
At last Friday’s CPA board’s special meeting, Toves said that the CNMI was faced with major calamities in the last two years of the terms of Tenorio and Mendiola.
On the seaport side, the director said, Rota encountered major damage from Typhoon Mangkhut, which stopped the operation of the Rota seaport for a couple of months.
“It adversely affected the economy of Rota and the livelihood of the people,” Toves said.
Toves asked Tenorio and Mendiola to work with Department of Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Antonio Benavente, since DLNR is building a small marina on Rota. Toves said DLNR gave CPA half of that facility.
He asked Tenorio and Mendiola to work with DLNR in order to begin construction of the marina for small boats that will address the problem when there is a calamity.
The director said if the main port is closed for whatever reason, the small boats will have a place to come in. He said these small boats will no longer be chased out of west and east harbors.
“The people of Rota will appreciate that. If you accomplish that, I will give you guys my utmost appreciation at the end of the day,” Toves told Tenorio and Mendiola.
Toves also disclosed that there are a couple of interested investors that are asking about the seaport and airport facilities on Rota.
He said he wants to see the request for proposals project for the concession program for Rota to push through. “We’ve been working on this and there seems to be a snag,” the director said.