Governor says discussions with Cape Air ongoing

GOVERNOR Ralph D.L.G. Torres met with Cape Air officials on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of continuing its Rota flight service.

He said Commonwealth Ports Authority and Marianas Visitor’s Authority officials were also present at the meeting.

Once Cape Air’s partnership with United Airlines ends on May 31, Cape Air will no longer be able to provide the Rota flight service.

Cape Air is now “reaching out” to the CNMI government and the local private sector.

Torres said lawmakers led by Senate President Arnold Palacios and Speaker Ralph Demapan are also trying to find ways to assist Cape Air.

“At this point we are open to discussion and we’ll set aside available resources to assist the airline. We hope that Cape Air can continue its flight service.”

Torres added, “The bottom-line is, we don’t want to see an end of flight service to any of our three main islands. We know that United Airlines will provide a daily flight from Saipan to Guam, but we are looking at every angle to increase that one flight to five a day so we will not miss connecting flights to Japan,  Hawaii or the rest of the world.”

Torres said the CNMI can provide a subsidy “to any airline that comes in to provide services.”

Cape Air, he added, “has been here for a long time and they has provided good service with United Airlines. Whatever their differences are, we don’t want to get involved. At the end of the day, the government needs to prioritize the airline can provide feasible service with reliable time frames.”

Rota Sen. Paul Manglona, for his part, said the unanticipated discontinuance of Cape Air’s flight service at the end of this month as well as the reduction of flights to Saipan will greatly affect the CNMI’s effort to promote tourism on all the three main islands.

“Rota has benefitted from Cape Air’s flight service since 2005. Not only did it create many jobs on the island, but allowed our tourism industry to stay afloat. They have been good partners over the years. For these and other reasons, we have asked Senate President Palacios…to take an active role in discussions with Cape Air and United Airlines. The Senate president has requested that United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz reconsider the recent decision, and to allow six months or a year of deferment to give our government time to explore all possible options to reduce the negative impact of this  unexpected reduction and discontinuation of flight services,” Manglona said.

Another senator from Rota, Terry Santos, said the island’s legislative delegation has sat down and discussed the matter with Cape Air executives.

“If given some time as we have requested, I am confident that we can find a solution that will be mutually beneficial to all parties, particularly Rota. We look forward to a favorable consideration of  deferment on United Airlines’ part,” she said.

“We again humbly appeal to United Airlines to consider the need for United Express/Cape Air  providing the necessary flight service for the CNMI,” she added.

“Further, we commend Cape Air for trying to find solutions to address the matter.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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