The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands believes the indefinite suspension of XTRA Airways flights to the CNMI could be a threat.
HANMI and Marianas Visitors Authority board chair Gloria Cavanagh said yesterday the unexpected suspension of the flight service has negative repercussions.
“Regardless of what anyone thinks, the airlines are still representative of our tourism economy as a destination and to have that cancellation, without any warning, is going to be damaging,” she said in an interview after a speech at the Rotary Club of Saipan meeting at Hyatt Regency Saipan.
Saipan Tribune archives attributed the service suspension to contractual issues.
Cavanagh said it was unfortunate that after all the work XTRA Airways put into getting their services started, it was suspended several months later.
“In the beginning, in June and July, they were actually fighting to get the approval to fly. …They went through all that work,” she said.
The impact of the flight suspension on the CNMI’s tourism industry has yet not be felt because it is currently slow season.
“Sometimes, the load factor goes down 30 percent and so were not going to feel the immediate effect of XTRA Airways pulling out. During high season, of course, we will because the demand is there,” Cavanagh said.
XTRA Airways usually services the Nanjing-Saipan route.
Overall, Cavanagh said, the suspension of XTRA Airways flights is a black eye for the Commonwealth as a destination, particularly since the CNMI is in the middle of the approval process for new airlines.
“We can give our recommendation but it’s more or less with [the Commonwealth Ports Authority],” she said.
MVA has the ability to send its recommendations to CPA but, at the end of the day, CPA can do whatever it feels is the right step for the Commonwealth, Cavanagh said, although MVA will continue to make recommendations on airlines that are reputable and will have a good working connection with the Commonwealth. “Other than that, it is unfortunately out of our hands,” she said. “We do go out and try to find other reputable airlines but we go after the ones we know and ones that are trustworthy.”