Subsidy for Rota flight service will cost CNMI over US$1M a year

SAIPAN – United Airlines can provide a Rota flight service, but it will cost the CNMI from US$1.1 million to US$8 million a year, Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres said on Wednesday.

United Airlines, he added, has offered four options:

The first involves twice-a-week stops on Rota. United’s daily Guam-Saipan flights can stop on Rota two times each week, but it will require US$1.1 million in “annual support” from the CNMI.

Option number two: four weekly stops on Rota which will cost US$2.2 million.

Option number three proposes two additional weekly Guam-Saipan flights in the evening to complement the daily Guam-Saipan flights with stops on Rota. This will cost US$4 million.

Option number four includes four additional weekly flights in the evening with stops on Rota. This will cost US$8 million.

These are the proposals on the table right now, the governor said in a press conference.

He said he is looking at the possibility of a twice-weekly stop on Rota which requires US$1.1 million from the CNMI government.

Star Marianas has offered to provide a flight service to Rota, but the governor said the Guam International Airport Authority has to approve the proposal first.

“One of the issues is not here on Saipan or Rota, but at the Guam terminal. Star Marianas needs assistance on that issue, and that’s why I am communicating with [Guam] Gov. Eddie Calvo to assist us not just with Star Marianas but with other airlines as well to allow smaller aircraft to provide a Guam-Rota-Saipan flight service.”

The governor added, “We’re still discussing United’s proposals which also include trying to open up direct Japan-Saipan flights. We are still working on some numbers, everything is in dollars, but at least we continue communicating with them.”

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