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Last updateThu, 20 Jun 2019 12am







    Wednesday, June 19, 2019-7:41:09P.M.






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Governor to Skymark: Your success is our success

GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres said the arrival of Skymark Airlines’ charter flight from Tokyo on Friday highlights the enduring partnership between Japan and the CNMI.

Saipan is Skymark’s first international flight. “Skymark took that risk…when it can go anywhere else in the world,” Torres said during a media conference held shortly after the arrival of Skymark’s B737-800 from Tokyo at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.

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Gov. Ralph DLG Torres shakes hands with Skymark  chief executive officer and president Masahiko Ichie after presenting the CNMI seal and plaque of appreciation to the CEO.  Photo by Junhan B. Todiño

Joining him were other CNMI officials and Skymark executives led by chief executive officer and president Masahiko Ichie and international preparation office director John Furuya.

“We are fortunate and blessed to have you on island,” the governor told Ichie. “Thank you for your partnership. Your success is our success.”

Torres said it is his administration’s goal to “bring back” the Japanese market.

The governor said Saipan is also gateway to the U.S. mainland as he encouraged Skymark to provide a new route to U.S.

As a token of appreciation from the Commonwealth government, Torres presented the CNMI seal and a plaque to Ichie.

In his remarks, Ichie thanked “all the people involved” in Skymark’s first international flight.

“We could never have achieved this fantastic moment without the help of the CNMI government,” he said. “From the bottom of my heart I’d like to thank everyone in the CNMI.”

Marianas Visitors Authority board chair Marian Aldan-Pierce said the foundation of the islands’ tourism industry was built by the Japanese over 40 years ago.

She said the return of the Japanese market through the direct flight provided by Skymark is a “historic moment.”

“We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship,” she added.

Commonwealth Ports Authority board chair Kimberly King-Hinds said CPA pledges its support and commitment to ensuring the success of Skymark’s Japan-Saipan flight service.

Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios told the Skymark executives: “We look forward to working with you for an enduring relationship.”

Speaker BJ Attao expressed his appreciation to Skymark for investing in the CNMI. “Welcome back home,” he added.

MVA Managing Director Chris Concepcion, one of the key CNMI officials in the negotiation with Skymark, said it was a fun and rewarding experience.

“We’re very happy and congratulations on your first international flight here in the CNMI,” he said. “We look forward to a very fruitful and successful partnership for many years.”

In an interview, MVA board member Jerry Tan said speaking as a businessman, he believes that Skymark’s operation in the CNMI will be successful.

He noted the long-standing historic and economic ties between NMI and Japan.

“There’s no doubt that Japanese tourists love our islands. They have been our leading market for decades. I’m sure that MVA will continue to promote the Japan market.”

In a separate interview, Skymark international preparation office director John Furuya said preparing for their first international flight was the “biggest important thing in my aviation career.”

He said Skymark is honored to serve Saipan.

Considering the long history between Japan and the NMI, “we feel that this destination remains very important.”

Japan Air Lines pulled out of the CNMI in 2005 while Delta Air Lines ended its Japan-Saipan flight service in May 2018.

Japan used to be the CNMI’s major tourism market which is now dominated by South Korea and China.