Skymark launches maiden flight in CNMI

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CNMI officials and Skymark Airlines executives celebrate the carrier's maiden service between Japan and Saipan on March 22. Photo courtesy of the Office of the CNMI Governor.

With the official launching of Tokyo-based Skymark Airlines’ daily flights between Japan and Saipan, the CNMI government hopes the new flights would boost tourism numbers impacted by the onslaught of typhoon Mangkhut and super typhoon Yutu last year.

The budget carrier’s Boeing 737-800 first landed at the Saipan international airport on Friday afternoon. The debut flight carried 177 passengers.

In his remarks after Skymark’s touchdown, CNMI Gov.Ralph Torres credited the Japanese carrier for “revitalizing a critical source market and creating a direct economic impact on the health and well-being of the CNMI economy.”

While typhoon Mangkhut and supert typhoon Yutu caused a decline in tourism numbers, Japanese arrivals also plunged when Delta Airlines terminated its service to this destination.

Last year, the CNMI government and Skymark signed a co-promotional agreement that preceded the opening of the direct flights service between Japan and Saipan. As it expands its fleet, Skymark also plans to launch nonstop flights between Japan and Palau sometime in May.

Skymark, Japan’s third largest carrier and first low-cost carrier, is based at Haneda International Airport in Ota, Tokyo. Emerging from bankruptcy filed in 2015, Skymark operated domestically for a few years before resuming international service last year. As part of its growth strategy, Skymark has set a goal to fill the gaps in competition.

As it expands its fleet, Skymark also plans to launch nonstop flights between Japan and Palau sometime in May.