XTRA Airways intends to launch flights from China to the CNMI in September this year and its application is currently pending with the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation.
XTRA Airways’ initial plan is to launch a China-Saipan route. The Marianas Visitors Authority has met with the officials of the airline on Saipan and MVA’s team in China.
MVA managing director Chris Concepcion said, “I think they are targeting a September launch flight from China to Saipan. They have also applied for rights to land in Guam. I heard there are talks of doing Saipan-Guam and inter-island flights that I think will be a great move for them. The market needs it and can sustain it.”
XTRA Airways, a U.S.-based carrier based in Florida and founded in 1989, offers charter flights and has expressed an intent to service the Saipan-Guam route.
“If you get approval from the FAA and USDOT, it says a lot about an airline. It means that you are better off than other airlines in other parts of the world,” Concepcion said.
“We think that the additional airline is good for the CNMI, that’s why we are excited. We are confident that they will be able to provide the service that’s needed and the MVA is ready to work with them to promote the CNMI anywhere in the world that XTRA [Airways] wants to launch their service from,” Concepcion added.
The opening of flights to the CNMI by XTRA Airways also opens the possibility of targeting new markets to boost tourism in the CNMI.
“If ever that happens, we are ready. The North America market is a mature and a sophisticated market; they have been traveling for many years. I don’t see a huge growth from North America simply because we are far away. I think they have more options to go to Mexico, Caribbean, Hawaii, and South America for tropical vacations,” Concepcion said.
“But we do get a number people coming here from the U.S. and Canada so we will continue to promote our islands the best we can in those markets,” Concepcion added.