Continental is giving the military what it wants. This means a reduction of the current discount of $1 300 to $1 190 for a flight originating in Guam and ending in Los Angeles.

A March e-mail message obtained by the Journal from Anthony J. Graham regional master chief of U.S. Naval Forces Marianas apprised service members of the change in the discount. He said in his correspondence "I am pleased to announce Continental Airlines has agreed to adjust their HMO fare to LAX to $1 190.00 in an attempt to make travel more affordable for servicemen and military families based on Guam."

In his letter Graham recognizes Continental’s financial status "Continental Airlines lost $205 million in FY 2005. This is clearly a generous discount of more than 10% off their lowest HMO fare. And it reflects Continental’s appreciation of our patronage."

Graham also commended military lobbying. "I extend my sincere thanks to PACOM PACFLT and the dogged determination of the COMNAVMAR Staff."

In "Defense discount; Military officials seek additional Continental cut in fares" story in the March 6 issue of the Journal Lieutenant Commander Jason Salata spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command said "It is considered a quality of life issue and Pacific Command is looking at it very seriously. PACOM considers itself an advocate for military personnel principally airmen and sailors on Guam."

Salata also said the "space available" flights are not for people traveling on a schedule. "Unfortunately as the largest U.S. command in the world PACOM cannot afford to use military airlift to transport off-duty personnel and families."

Military personnel on Guam have invited both Northwest Airlines and Continental Micronesia to discuss promotions and discount fares with military and federal personnel.

A letter dated Feb. 14 was sent to Continental Airlines Inc. in Houston from Brig. Gen. Kenneth S. Dowd U.S. Army director of Logistics Engineering and Security Assistance calling for an additional discount to fares from Guam to Los Angeles’ LAX airport.

Dowd’s letter indicated "Continental offers the only direct-U.S. flights for our troops but the ticket prices often exceed $2 100 round trip." He said "Even with the military discount rate of approximately $1 300 round trip (to Los Angeles) it is cost-prohibitive for many military families to visit home."

Dowd wrote "For example a young Sailor with a family of four would pay $5 200. If the same family took one trip a year during their 3-year tour they would pay $15 600 in travel costs." Dowd said more than 12 000 military members and their families live on Guam. "Any latitude in fares would be a benefit. The morale boost gained by offering additional opportunities goes a long way toward service member readiness and well being." MBJ