A great day for Tinian

TINIAN — After 20 years, the construction of the Tinian International Airport is now complete.

The airport, however, still has to comply with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Transportation Security Administration requirements before it can be fully operational.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Gov. Ralph Torres noted that the project was first conceptualized in 1997 and encountered a lot of difficulties.

“The whole idea was to have an international airport and so now that we have this, we have new investors coming in,” he said.

Torres said he is proud that the project was finally completed under his administration.

“It takes leadership and commitment to do it — and the right resources.”

Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres, fifth left, poses with other officials, Friday, prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Tinian International Airport. Photo by Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

Also on Friday, the governor joined Tinian officials in welcoming the first international flight to land on Tinian, a charter flight from Hong Kong.

The plane landed at around 1 p.m. on Friday and among the passengers were Tim Chen, the CEO of Tinian Entertainment Corporation or TEC. It was Chen who chartered the flight.

He said he has been on Tinian several times already and he loves the island and its people. That’s why he wants to help the island fulfill its dream.

“I just want to support this island. I feel that I am part of this place, and I want it to be successful.”

Chen said the four-hour trip from Hong Kong was smooth. “It was a good flight. We worked very hard on this project for two years already, together with the mayor and the delegation. We faced a lot of difficulties. Just as the governor said earlier in his remarks, a lot of people said it was not possible and that we could not do it. But we did, and I am happy to be able to help this island.”

The project was made possible through the assistance of the Commonwealth Ports Authority, the governor’s office and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The project cost $1.9 million. Taniguchi Ruth Makio Architects provided the A&E design while the construction manager was Pacific Engineering Group Services. The contractors were First Net Insurance Company and RNV Construction.

CPA board member Kimberly King-Hinds, who is also legal counsel for the mayor, said:

“We’re here today to celebrate the completion of the arrival portion of the terminal but there is still much work to be done…. As much as CPA would like to heavily invest in this project, it is very expensive to meet the CBP and TSA requirements. So we have to balance it with growth like opening a new hotel here. It’s a matter of timing. But I am excited — this is a great day for Tinian. But again we still have a lot of work to do and this is just the beginning.”

In a separate interview, Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas said hotel rooms are not really a problem since they already have the existing 435 rooms of the defunct Tinian Dynasty. All they have to do is find a new investor willing to take over and re-open Tinian Dynasty.

“I want to say that we are very proud that our Tinian International Airport is finally completed though there is still much work to be done to make it operational. But the construction phase is complete. We are very happy about that and we would like to extend our greatest appreciation to all the hard-working people that made it possible at CPA, the CIP office of the governor, the governor himself and his administration, the Department of the Interior, the Tinian delegation — this is something to be proud of and we look forward to more progress as we move forward for our island and for our commonwealth.”

He said the first thing that investors ask is, “How about flights to Tinian? Do you have an airport that accepts international flights? So this project takes care of that concern…. There are investors looking at Tinian right now, we have TEC, Alter City Group and BIG which just broke ground for the first phase of the project, so we are moving forward.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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