Representatives of a U.S. airline checked out the CNMI last month for the possibility of providing interisland services here, according to Commonwealth Ports Authority board director Barrie C. Toves.
In an interview last Tuesday, Toves, who chairs the CPA board’s airport facilities committee, said the airline’s representatives checked the airport facilities on Saipan and even went down to Rota, where he met them.
Toves opted to not disclose the airline’s name for now as there has been no official commitment yet.
He, however, hinted that this airline is affiliated with United Airlines and possibly American Airlines, too.
He said the representatives were actually surprised at the quality of the Rota terminal.
He said this airline wants to build a maintenance hangar on Saipan for their aircraft so they can provide interisland services between Saipan and Tinian and between Saipan and Rota and Guam.
“They are going back home to put their proposals in a package,” Toves said.
Because of this development, Toves asked CPA board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds and CPA executive director Christopher S. Tenorio to already start communicating with federal partners, particularly since the U.S. Transportation Security Administration is closing shop on Rota.
Toves said if this new airline comes in, TSA services would be needed so the airline can commit its flights to United Airlines to connect to international flights or even to the U.S. mainland.
This makes it important for TSA to reconsider its decision to close shop on Rota, he said “We were informed that the TSA headquarters made the decision to close shop on Rota because there’s no operation when Cape Air stopped flying,” he added.
Toves said they have been given a heads-up that TSA is already mobilizing its equipment and that TSA employees have already been notified about the decision to close.