AAFB to continue with exercises

Cope North will begin at Andersen Air Force Base on Feb. 3 and run through Feb. 19, according to the U.S. Air Force. It will again involve American, Japanese and Australian forces – taking place largely at Northwest Field and include F-35s and F-16s.

According to Journal files, more than 2,000 personnel took part in the annual exercise last year, which moved to Guam in 1999.

Sea Dragon 2021, which concluded in Guam Jan. 31, involved about 190 personnel.

In other news from the Pacific Air Forces in Hawaii, four B-52 bombers arrived Jan. 26 at Andersen, deployed from the 96th Bomb Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. 


United travel app may eventually be compatible, plus furlough news and Hawaii changes

United’s “Travel-Ready Center” will allow customers to upload and validate test results, review local entry requirements, find testing providers, and store vaccination records in the United app and united.com, according to a Jan. 26 release.

This follows the announcement of the IATA app, which IATA said is designed to integrate with similar apps (See mbjguam.com).

United may also integrate its app.

“We are currently exploring business partnerships with a variety of organizations to integrate further capabilities into the Travel-Ready Center platform,” Koji Nagata, director of Asia Pacific Communications in Tokyo, told the Journal.

Other apps and coalitions currently include the Commons Pass (more details at https://thecommonsproject.org/commonpass)  and the Vaccination Credential Initiative (more details at https://vaccinationcredential.org).

In other United news, aviation industry media are reporting the airline has advised 14,000 staff of potential furloughs Jan. 29. Without additional government support of the aviation industry, furloughs will begin in April. In a Jan. 29 release, the Association of Flight Attendants announced its appeal to the Biden administration and Congress to extend aid through Sept. 30.

Also, according to a Jan. 27 release from Chicago, “Beginning Feb. 1, United customers traveling to Hawaii who have a valid negative COVID-19 test can show their results before boarding to save time and skip document screening lines upon arrival. The new pre-clearance process will be in place for customers traveling on 110 of United’s weekly flights to Hawaii,” the airline said.


Guam companies receive MilCon awards

Guam Industrial Services Inc. of Agat is one of 15 shipyards that will compete for each order of a $155 million firm-fixed-price contract for unprogrammed maintenance, emergency repair, modification and modernization efforts that do not require the use of a dry dock. 

Bids were solicited via the internet with 15 received.  Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 26, 2026.  U.S. Army Contracting Command, Detroit Arsenal, Michigan, is the contracting activity, according to a Jan. 28 release from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Black Construction/Mace International JV of Harmon, Guam was  awarded a $28,877,806 firm-fixed-price task order under a previously awarded design-build/design-bid-build, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity unrestricted multiple-award construction contract N40084-18-D-0066 to perform various repairs to deep-draft wharf infrastructure at Naval Support Facility, Diego Garcia. 

Work in the British Indian Ocean territory is expected to be completed by September 2023, according to a Jan. 21 release from the U.S. Department of Defense. Two proposals were received for this task order.  The Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Far East, Diego Garcia made the award.

San Juan-Black & Veatch International Ltd. JV, of Montrose in Colorado, was awarded a $23,145,586 task order the same date under a similar contract to provide long-term repairs to the north parking apron, Phase I, at Naval Support Facility in Diego Garcia. Work is to be completed by May 2022. Two proposals were received and the same command made the award.

In addition, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Marianas awarded Jan. 20, a $30 million indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contract to an off-island group – Sundance-EA Associates II of Pocatello in Idaho, for environmental compliance services at Joint Region Marianas, according to a Jan. 21 release from NAVFAC Pacific.


PPP loans prove popular again

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Guam office on Jan. 28, following a Journal request for information, the number of Paycheck Protection Program loans in Guam as at Jan. 24 were 53 totaling $4,694,067 and six for the Northern Mariana Islands, totaling $341,100.

The largest number of loans nationwide were for businesses in accommodation and food services.

The SBA said it has taken steps to improve the program this year.


In other federal assistance news:

The next batch of Guam unemployment payments will go out on Feb. 2 and every Tuesday after that. The Guam Department of Labor “batched” $20.9 million in pandemic unemployment benefits for the first time on Jan. 19.

The Department of Revenue & Taxation has processed and the Department of Administration will mail 346 2019 tax refund checks within a week, according to a Jan. 29 release. The checks total approximately $ 2,593,817 including refunds garnished to repay government debts for error free returns filed on or before August 05, 2020.

Guam’s Rev&Tax announced the same day it processed 5,633 Economic Impact Payment checks totaling approximately $6.7 million.

In the Northern Mariana Islands residents have the option of accessing a portal to receive those payments by direct deposit.


Another chance for NMI residency

On Jan. 28, Gregorio Camacho “Kilili” Sablan, the NMI delegate to Congress reintroduced legislation to grant permanent status to certain Commonwealth-only Transitional Workers and to [EB5] foreign investors, who were originally admitted under Commonwealth immigration law.


Bank and insurance co close branches

Bank of Guam’s branches in Dededo and Harmon closed on Jan. 31, though the bank advised customers of the closures some weeks ago (see www.mbjguam.com).

The nearest of its seven Guam branches are in Yigo and Tamuning, including a branch each on Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Station Guam. The bank earlier closed its Tumon branch. BOG has additional ATMs in some supermarkets and gas stations.

The bank continues to promote digital services, this time through a campaign called “The start of something new.”

Nanbo Guam announced Feb. 1 that it is closing its Tamuning location in the ITC center March 16. Brent Butler, general manager said, “ … much like other local businesses, we are faced with having to manage our business more efficiently.” Nanbo will offer customer service at its headquarters in Hagatna and also announced a 24 on-line payment service at www.nanbo.com, in addition to paying by phone. mbj