16 Nov 2011

CNMI's first local airline to boost local economy

11:32 am on 16 November 2011

The Northern Mariana Islands will have its first local airline when Saipan Air begins its inaugural flight on July the 1st next year.

The new carrier, owned by Tan Holdings, will use two Boeing 737 aircraft and will initially focus on the key Japanese airports of Narita, Nagoya, and Osaka.

The Tan Holdings president, Jerry Tan, says the company has decided to invest in a local carrier to help revive the CNMI's tourism industry and contribute to the growth of the local economy.

He added that a healthy tourism industry would ensure full economic recovery for the Commonwealth.

Saipan Air executives are expecting an increase in Japanese tourist arrivals by around 200,000 annually and boost the CNMI's economy to pre-2005 levels.

Since 2005 tourist arrivals to the CNMI have suffered significant drops due to global economic downturns, oil price increases, and other external forces.