25 Nov 2013

Northern Marianas still keen to host US Air Force divert airfield

4:39 pm on 25 November 2013

Northern Marianas leaders would allow the United States' Air Force to create a divert airfield on Saipan, but they say certain conditions would need to be met.

The US Congress delegate, Gregorio Kilili Sablan says the Commonwealth does not want to lose the 90 million US dollar airfield project to another place such as Palau or the Philippines.

He says to this end he and the governor, Eloy Inos, have been working with the U.S. House Armed Services Committee on a legislative language that would stop the Air Force spending any money unless certain conditions are met in relation to a divert airfield in the CNMI.

The CNMI has been pushing for the airfield to be sited on Tinian, where two-thirds of the lands are already under lease to the U.S. Department of Defense.

But the Air Force preference is to build it on Saipan, which meets most of the selection standards, including access to fuel vessels that Tinian does not have.