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Skymark’s inaugural flight from Japan to bring in 177 passengers

SKYMARK Airlines’ inaugural charter flight from Japan will arrive today, Friday, with 177 passengers.

Japan’s third largest carrier will be the first Japan-based carrier in the CNMI since 2005 when the Japan Airlines stopped its operation, Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Chris Concepcion said.

The Skymark will use a B737-800 for its inaugural direct flight from Tokyo.

“This is very promising for the Japan market. The interest is still there, many people in Japan still love to travel to the CNMI,” Concepcion said.

He said direct flights from Japan are probably the most important component of the diversification of the CNMI’s tourism industry.

“We’ve said it all along: CNMI must have a diversified tourism portfolio with the Big 3 — Japan, South Korea and China — having equal shares,” he added.

The resumption of a direct service from Tokyo to the CNMI is critical for this to happen, Concepcion said, adding that Saipan, Tinian and Rota still have “a very high name recognition in Japan.”

This is due to the fact that the local tourism industry began over 40 years ago through a partnership with the Japanese, he said, adding that the islands’ ties with Japan go back over 104 years.

Having direct link to Japan is crucial for the continued growth of the CNMI tourism industry, Concepcion said.

“I’m very happy to be leaving MVA after having Skymark launch its first international flight to Saipan this month. It’s incredibly significant for the CNMI and we thank our partners in Japan and the CNMI for their support,” Concepcion said.

After three years as MVA’s managing director, Concepcion has announced his resignation, effective April 12.

The last direct flight between Saipan and Japan was on May 6, 2018 following Delta Air Lines’ suspension of its operation in the CNMI.

For Skymark’s inaugural flight, Concepcion said MVA personnel and cultural performers will welcome the passengers with leis and a welcome banner.

Miss Marianas Celine Concepcion and “Marianas-chan” Jebro John Leon will hand out small gifts for children.

MVA and other CNMI government officials will also be at the airport to greet the guests, including Skymark president Masahiko Ichie and other airline executives.