T’way Air could resume flights next month

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After a 15-month suspension of flights as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, T’way Air is tentatively set to resume its Seoul Incheon–Saipan route next month.

According to Commonwealth Ports Authority board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds, T’way is just waiting on approval from the South Korean government before they can officially resume the route.

“[T’way Air] is still waiting to get the approval of the Korean government. This date remains tentative,” she said.

T’way is a low-cost Korean airline that started offering daily flights to and from Korea in 2016. The airline initially reduced its weekly Saipan flights from 14 to four on March 1, 2020, before completely suspending the flights on March 28, 2020.

T’way is just one of two other South Korea-based airlines set to resume its Saipan route next month. Jeju Air plans to resume its Incheon–Saipan route on July 10 while Asiana Airlines is set to resume on July 17.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, Jeju Air has been approved by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation of Korea to fly into the CNMI in anticipation of its participation in the CNMI’s Tourism Investment Program, or TRIP. The plan is for Jeju Air to have weekly regularly scheduled flights, which will hopefully begin on July 10.

The TRIP program was released to the public earlier this month. Essentially, it is a set of travel protocols intended to revive the CNMI’s tourism industry. It is a pilot program that will run for two months and offers incentives to partners who will take part in it, while also prioritizing the health and safety of people in the CNMI.

As part of the incentives offered to airlines, flights below 40% load will be incentivized by the CNMI government, provided that tickets prices are to be sold at $400. Airplane seat load of over 40% will not get an incentive.

Meanwhile, a charter flight from Asiana Airlines is set to arrive on July 17 followed by a regular once-a-week service targeted for July 24.

The Asiana flight, which will reportedly use a 174-seater A321, expects to leave Incheon at 9am and return the same day, departing at 4pm from Saipan and arriving at Incheon at 7:40pm.

Korea Joong Ang Daily reports that the airline hopes to activate international travel and the airline market with the resumption of the Saipan route as the first step.

Kimberly B. Esmores | 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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