United Airlines proposes ‘partnership’ with NMI

TO operate a Rota flight service, United Airlines is proposing a partnership with the CNMI government.

In a letter to Senate President Arnold Palacios, United Airlines managing director for global government and regulatory affairs Dan Weiss said they “engaged in a conference call” with Gov. Ralph Torres and Kimberly King-Hinds, Commonwealth Ports Authority board member, on April 30, 2018 to discuss the proposal.

 “During this call, United presented a proposal for United operations on Rota and did so in a gesture of partnership with the community. Both the governor and Ms. King-Hinds asked thoughtful and important questions [regarding] the United proposal and indicated the next step would be for the government to confer.”

Weiss said because the demand for air service to Rota is “small for a large jet operation, United would need to enter into a financial partnership with the government and that was well understood on our call.”

Weiss added that they are ready to discuss further the proposal with the CNMI and Rota leadership.

Weiss wrote replying to the letter from Palacios dated May 1, 2018 regarding the discontinuation of the flight service to Rota.

Palacios said the decision by  United Airlines to reduce its flights to one daily to Saipan and discontinue its Cape Air service to Rota have triggered great concerns.

Palacios said the discontinuation of the United/Cape Air service to Rota will  have a “devastating effect on tourism, medical referrals, employment and potential development and investment ventures on Rota.”

He added, “The discontinuation of the Cape Air service to Rota will leave only Star Marianas and Arctic Circle serving Rota, but these air operations have a very limited number of flights and seats.”

He said the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. is also concerned about the reduced flights to Saipan “as it will significantly impede the CNMI’s getting emergency specialty care for critically ill patients, transporting blood and other laboratory specimens and will certainly affect the transshipment of frozen laboratory specimens and supplies.”

Palacios asked United Airlines to reconsider its decision, saying the commonwealth needs up to a year “to explore all possible options to fill the gap as a result of the discontinued air service.”

In his response, Weiss said United Airlines understands the importance of air service to island communities.

“United has maintained its hub at Guam and operations to outer-lying islands for 50 years. Air service may change from time to time but the importance of the region to United and the importance of our air service to the region does not go unrecognized by our leadership,” he added.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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