United to fly Saipan-Narita for 6 months


United Airlines has agreed to provide direct flights between Saipan and Narita, Japan for six months starting this September to accommodate the CNMI’s recently established TRIP Japan program.

According to Ivan Quichocho, Marianas Visitors Authority’s TRIP chairman, the official agreement between the CNMI and United Airlines, in terms of direct flight service from Saipan to Narita, is for six months. However, the agreement allows an extension for up to one year.

According to Sam Shinohara, United Airlines’ managing director of airport operations for Asia Pacific, there has already been a lot of buzz in Japan from press releases alone and United Airlines expects more individuals to start booking Japan-Saipan flights as official advertisements and promotions are released.

“[On] the day we launched [TRIP Japan], there were a handful of bookings that we saw in the system already. So there were some pretty quick takers and that was just from a press release from the MVA, the governor’s office, and United Airlines, nothing else. Now that the real promotional activities are about to start, there has been a lot of interest and a lot of buzz about the new destination. As I said, Saipan’s got a lot to offer for visitors from Japan and I think this agreement will work well,” he said.
United Airlines’ inaugural flight for TRIP Japan is set to arrive on Sept. 1 and will be the first of many flights that are expected to bring in over 8,000 Japanese visitors to Saipan throughout the rest of the year.

United Airlines will be starting off with three weekly flights but, depending on the load factor, there is still a possibility of increasing the number of flights in a week.
According to MVA managing director Priscilla Iakopo, MVA is extremely excited to be welcoming back Japanese tourists.

“Having to welcome our Japan market once again is truly important because tourism was borne out of the Japanese so we value that partnership and that friendship and we definitely want to maintain that,” she said.

The three officials spoke about the upcoming flights from Japan during a news briefing last Saturday at the Aqua Resort Club.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores 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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