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Freedom Air founder passes away

HAGÅTÑA — Joaquin Lago Flores Jr., founder of the now defunct Freedom Air passed away on May 14. He was 73.

Details of his death were not available as of press time. A former Freedom Air employee said Flores died at the Guam Memorial Hospital due to kidney failure.

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Joaquin Lago Flores Jr.

“The Guam Visitors Bureau board of directors, management and staff send their deepest condolences to the family of the late Joaquin Lago Flores,” Guam Visitors Bureau CEO and president Nathan Denight said in a statement.

“Mr. Flores strengthened the connection between Guam and the CNMI for nearly four decades, serving the islands through Freedom Air. GVB thanks Mr. Flores and his family for their commitment to offering expanded passenger service, cargo operations, search and rescue, medivac services and more since 1974 for the Marianas. May he rest in peace,” he added.

Fondly known as “Boss,” Flores lived with his family in Sinajana. He founded Freedom Air in 1974, together with his mother, brother and sister. The aviation company began operations in 1972 with three aircraft, a Cessna 172, 150 and Piper Apache.

Freedom Air began as a sightseeing and commuter air carrier between Saipan and Tinian and later expanded into schedule and demand passenger services as well as cargo operations.

For many years, Freedom Air was the only carrier that provided service between Guam and the CNMI.

Freedom Air remained a family-owned business. After more than 30 years in business, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2013 before it eventually shut down, burdened by $1.84 million in secured debts, including a $900,000 loan from the CNMI’s Commonwealth Development Authority

According to a published obituary, a Mass of Intention is being offered at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church in Sinajana daily.

Last respects may be paid from 9 to 11:15 a.m. May 25 at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church. A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at noon.  Interment will follow at Guam Memorial Park in Leyang, Barrigada.