Continental Micronesia has announced a July 1 launch for its Continental Connection Palau Micronesia Air has released fares as its inaugural flight date of July 2 approaches and Pacific Island Aviation is offering a $55 one way Guam-Saipan plus tax to attract passengers.
Technical problems that are keeping Freedom Air’s 30-seater SD 360 Short grounded in Rota have meant that the airline is restricted to a seven-seater Navajo at what could not be a worse time competitively. Airline representatives could not be reached for comment as to when the plane would fly again.
Walter B. Dias staff vice president for sales and promotions confirmed to the Journal that the new commuter service was upcoming. “On July 1 we will be launching Continental Connection to Rota.” The newest commuter airline will fly a nine-passenger Cessna 402. Dias said the airline plans to introduce a 46-passenger ATR aircraft to serve both Rota and Saipan in the late summer months.
The Continental Connection from Guam to Rota will offer three flights a day at 8:15 a.m. 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Flights from Rota to Guam will fly at 10 a.m. 2:50 p.m. and 7:10 p.m. at a cost of $140 round trip plus tax.
The direct flight will open up the route for both tourist and business traffic on the Guam-Rota route Dias said. “It allows us to market Rota to our customers in Japan which we haven’t been doing for 12 years now. We are marketing it as a day trip for our Japanese customers.” He said customers in Guam and Rota would not only be able to fly direct but for the first two months of operation the flight would earn double OnePass miles.
Dias said no routes outside of the Mariana Islands were contemplated at this time. Continental Micronesia will direct sales and marketing for the Continental Connection flights and Cape Air will direct operations he said in a similar arrangement to the one the companies have in Florida and Puerto Rico. Cape Air will operate out of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Jim Stowell vice president and director of safety for Pacific Island Aviation said “PIA doesn’t anticipate any changes in our service. We will continue to provide efficient low-cost Northwest Airlink service to our customers.”
Meanwhile Palau Micronesia Air is awaiting approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct business in Guam. Marilou G. Dimalanta regional manager for Palau Micronesia for Guam and the Philippines told the Journal that until approval was forthcoming the airline was unable to discuss marketing details. She said that the approval from the department had been expected the week of June 7 but it had not been received.
The airline did release a schedule of destinations and fare prices. Inaugural fares for a round trip between Palau and Yap between July 2 to 7 will cost $199 and a round trip between Palau and Manila during those dates will cost $499. Round trips between July 8 and 31 in addition to the Yap and Palau flights will be between Palau and Chuuk at $599 and between Palau and Pohnpei at $799 and between Palau and Darwin at $699. Prices do not include tax.
After completion of maintenance and painting the Palau Micronesia aircraft — a Boeing 737-300 — will be released for acceptance by Volito Leasing. It is due to arrive at Koror International Airport around June 20.
Alan Seid president of Palau Micronesia told the Journal “We will be offering competitive prices. We want to co-exist with Continental JAL and the other airlines. There’s enough room to build a market that will strengthen the economy of the islands.”
The airline has launched it’s Web site www.palau-air.com. MBJ