United Airlines launches free COVID passenger testing trials

United customers traveling on flight 14 from Newark Liberty International Airport to London Heathrow were the first to experience the airline’s free transatlantic COVID-19 testing pilot program, according to a Nov. 17 release. The airline provided rapid tests to every passenger over 2 years old free of charge and all crew members on board, guaranteeing everyone (but infants) on the flight tested negative prior to departure.

The rapid Abbott ID Now COVID-19 test – administered by Premise Health – will continue to be used with passengers traveling on United Flight 14 (departing three times weekly) for the next four weeks. Customers booking these flights will have the option to participate in the trial or be accommodated on another flight. Customers who opt-in will receive information prior to travel in order to schedule a testing appointment at least three hours before their flight departs. All customers are still subject to current U.K. entry requirements, including the 14-day quarantine rule.

United has invited governments on both sides of the Atlantic to observe this pilot program and to assess its effectiveness as an alternative to mandatory quarantines and travel restrictions. United has seen a positive impact on travel demand and significant increases in customer load factors as well as revenue when testing options are available.

Before the pandemic, United operated six daily flights between New York/Newark and London Heathrow, the release said.


Quarantine equals catching COVID as reason not to fly

A survey by Inmarsat Aviation found that eight in ten passengers (83%) claim their travel habits will change – even once the pandemic has subsided. When it comes to flying, nearly a third (31%) say they will fly less.

However, while 80% of respondents describe their behavior in relation to avoiding COVID-19 as cautious, 48% say they’re ‘highly cautious’, with the remaining 32% saying they are ‘fairly cautious, nearly two-thirds (65%) of passengers expect to fly again in the next year, with 47% saying they intend to fly again in the next six months.

The survey found regional differences, Inmarsat said. “For example, passengers in the Asia Pacific region are more satisfied with airlines’ response to COVID-19 than those in Europe. Travel anxiety appears higher among Asian passengers, with 58% of respondents in India and 55% in South Korea planning to travel less in the future.”

Inmarsat said there are demographic differences that govern responses. “Women are less confident throughout the travel journey and older passengers – those over 65 – are three times (24%) more likely to wait until there’s a vaccine before flying again than those aged 25-34 (8%).

Frequent flyers (those of all ages and nationalities who took more than five flights in 2019) are the most confident at each stage of the passenger journey and those that identify as ‘highly cautious’ are the least confident.”

As to what was preventing respondents from flying overseas at present, “fear of catching the virus came out top (61%), but this was closely followed by the potential inconvenience of quarantining (60%).”

Technology enhances passenger confidence, the survey found.

Some 79% of passengers said their confidence would be increased while in the air if they were provided with destination status alerts, real time information and news about the place they were flying to  and 83% want more contactless payments inflight.”

The survey link can be found at https://www.inmarsataviation.com/en/benefits/passenger-experience/increased-digitalisation-critical-to-rebuilding-passenger-confid.html

The survey was conducted in October 2020 and released on Nov. 10. Inmarsat said market research company Yonder spoke to 9,500 people across 12 countries worldwide, all of whom had taken at least one flight in the previous 18 months. Inmarsat is a British telecom company that does business internationally.


Guam Chamber 2021 board announced

The Guam Chamber of Commerce announced that 2021 elected members of the board are Kim Anderson Young, president and founder, Security Title Inc; Siska S. Hutapea, president and chief appraiser, Cornerstone Valuation Guam Inc; Mark H. Tokito, senior vice president, Bank of Hawaii; Phillip Santos, account executive, Matson Navigation Co.; Mark J. Sablan, vice president for business development of South Pacific Petroleum Corp.; and Jessica M. Barrett, president and RME, Barrett Enterprises Inc., which does business as Barrett Plumbing & Pumping. As the highest vote-getter, Young will join the executive committee.

The two alternate directors elected to serve a one-year term are Sandra McKeever, CEO and president, Asia Pacific Financial Management Group and William H. Calori, chief financial officer, Cabras Marine Corp.

Those individuals will join holdover directors Christopher Duenas, chief financial officer, Triple J Enterprises; Juan Carlos Benitez, president and owner, The Washington Pacific Economic Development Group Inc.; Mika Caldwell, vice president and general manager, Archway Inc.; Ernie Galito, marketing and communications director, Atkins Kroll Inc.; Candy C. Okuhama, president; ASC Trust; Tom S.N. Shimizu, general manager, Ambros Inc.; Bobby Shringi, sales and marketing manager, Moylan’s Insurance Underwriters Inc.; Christine Won Pat Baleto, chief financial officer, Docomo Pacific and master franchisee, store owner, Pacific Froots LLC; Marie N. Guerrero, CEO and general manager, Three Squares Guam/B&G Pacific; Maureen N. Maratita, publisher, Glimpses of Guam; Milton Morinaga, managing director, P.H.R. Ken Micronesia Inc.; and Edward G. Untalan, senior vice president and Guam-CNMI region manager, First Hawaiian Bank.


NMI DPL sees revenue increase trend

The Northern Mariana Islands Department of Public Lands released its Citizen-centric report for fiscal 2020 on Oct. 16. In the past five fiscal years, the report said, “DPL’s actual revenue continues to surpass its forecasted revenue predicted in the annual budget. Since … 2016, revenue has increased; however, the downward trend in revenue after 2018 is a result of the Commonwealth-wide recovery from Super Typhoon Yutu in 2019 and the COVID19 global pandemic of 2020.” (See below chart)

The report also lays out DPL’s goals for 2021, which include ramping up the homestead program for Saipan, Rota, Tinian and the Northern Islands.

The report can be found at https://www.dpl.gov.mp/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Official-DPL-CCR-2020.pdf


Fiscal year annual budget

2016                 2017                               2018                            2019                             2020

$ 3,632187       $ 5,184,376                   $ 4,854,044                   $ 4,550,453                   $ 4,103,864.5

Total Revenue

 $ 7,170,984      $ 8,007,437            $ 7,787,100             $ 6,702,776.96                          $ 5,392,254.45


Housing project breaks ground in Mangilao

TRI Inc. broke ground on Paradise Court in Old Price Road, Mangilao on Nov. 17.

The subdivision will consist of 16 three-bedroom, two bath single-family homes containing approximately 1,850 square feet of living area and one four-bedroom, three bath home containing approximately 2,500 square feet of living area. The subdivision will be gated and governed by CCRs and a homeowner’s association. Proposed property purchase prices are from $385,000 to $400,000 for the three-bedroomed units and $435,000 to $450,000 for the four bedroomed unit.

TRI also does business as Paradise Estates in Dededo and Paradise Meadows in Yigo.


CHCC checks businesses for sanitation and more

Out of 33 retail establishments, restaurants and bars the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. inspected in October, 26 received an A grade, five received a B grade and two were temporarily closed – the New XO Supermarket in Chalan Lau Lau and Marg’s Bakery & Kitchen in Susupe.

The full list can be found at http://www.chcc.gov.mp/pressrelease.html


San Nicolas secures Guam delegate seat

Michael F.Q. San Nicolas, Guam’s incumbent delegate to Congress secured 10,326 votes or 59.61% of the votes in the runoff election for Guam delegate. Robert A. Underwood secured 6,996 votes or 40.39% of votes, out of 17,322 votes cast. The voter turnout was 31.06%.


Telecom announces parternership with air filtration company

Docomo Pacific Inc. announced Nov. 17 its partnership with Aura Air, an Israeli company that offers air filtration against COVID-19

Roderick A. Boss, CEO of Docomo; said  the company is partnering with Aura to improve indoor air quality in the islands as a barrier to COVID 19.

In a presentation to medical professionals and media, the technology for cleaning air as a safety feature was explained. Aura Air filters use an algorithm for their functions and deliver air quality data through a QR code and an app.

The filter was trialed at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel and Aura Air claims it is the only filter product that has been tested for its effectiveness in removing COVID-19, Docomo said.

Filters cost between $599 and $499 and are available to purchase at Docomo.

Docomo and Aura Air are donating system units to Guam Memorial Hospital  and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. as part of a pilot program.

“In an effort to mitigate the spread of SARS COV 2 among our staff at Guam Memorial Hospital, we are grateful to take part in the Aura Air pilot program for the benefit of our hospital staff and patients,” said Dr. Joleen Aguon, GMH medical director.

“With the sustained rise in positive cases, we felt like we needed to do more. When we found Aura Air, we knew that offering a smart air filter, an added layer of protection against COVID-19, would serve a critical need in our hospitals, in our schools and businesses and most importantly, in our homes,” Boss said.

He said Aura Air has the right technology with the best air filters.

Boss called the unit a revolutionary product.

The full webinar is available on the Docomo Pacific YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlEDnqhDhfU

Aura Air units were given to Dr. Hoa V. Nguyen of the American Medical Center and Dr. Geoffrey P. Galgo of Guam Medical Care LLC on what Docomo told the Journal was a “trial basis.” Both of them endorsed the Aura Air products. Docomo said Dr. Galgo has confirmed he will be purchasing the product; Dr. Nguyen is still trialing it.


Hyatt Guam receives global cleaning certification

Hyatt Regency Guam announced Nov. 18 that it has achieved Global Biorisk Advisory Council STAR accreditation, the gold standard for prepared facilities. Under the guidance of GBAC, a Division of ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, Hyatt Regency Guam has implemented the most stringent protocols for cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention in its facilities.

As the cleaning industry’s only outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation, GBAC STAR helps organizations establish protocols and procedures, offers expert-led training and assesses a facility’s readiness for biorisk situations. The program verifies that Hyatt Regency Guam implements best practices to prepare for, respond to and recover from outbreaks and pandemics.

The Hyatt chain implemented accreditation for its facilities in May, according to Journal files.

The Hyatt Guam has opened rooms, its swimming pool and the outdoor venues of Cafe Kitchen and Breezes. Restaurants are serving a la carte, and Niji is serving to-go boxes. Goods are also available from The Deli, according to Journal files. mbj