United Airlines to suspend NMI flights effective April 6

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UNITED Airlines is suspending all its flights into and out of the CNMI effective April 6 as requested by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to the Commonwealth, Commonwealth Ports Authority Chairwoman Kimberlyn King-Hinds said on Tuesday.

United Airlines has agreed to the air service suspension through April 30, 2020.

CPA is advising the public that the last United Airlines flight into and out of the CNMI from Guam will be this Sunday, April 5, 2020. The Thursday, April 3, United Airlines flight has been canceled.

The ports authority also stated that individuals who must return to, or leave the CNMI, have to make their travel arrangements immediately by contacting United Airlines at 1-800-864-8331.

In a separate notice, CPA said U.S. Postal Services, air shipment of cargo to and from Guam, and medivac transport for health emergencies will not be disrupted by the temporary suspension of the Guam/CNMI United Airlines flights.

The daily transport of mail between the CNMI and Guam is serviced by Micronesian Air Cargo.

“For air cargo shipment services inter-island, to and from Guam, please call Star Marianas Air at 288-9988 or 286-5366 for more information. Let’s flatten the curve CNMI by staying home,” CPA stated.

In a statement on Tuesday, the governor said: “We commend United Airlines for agreeing to suspend their flights for most of April, and I want to personally thank Dave Baker, his team, and the United Airlines leadership for being true partners in the CNMI’s fight against the spread of Covid-19. United has always been a true partner of the CNMI, and their support of our public health priorities is a testament to protecting our islands.”

King-Hinds noted that the governor had consulted with CPA since January to make requests to the federal government to suspend flights in the interest of preventing the spread of Covid-19.

“The governor’s directive to CPA since January was to begin communicating with the airlines directly to consider suspending flights into and out of the CNMI to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. We have a strong partnership with United Airlines, and CPA has been relaying the CNMI’s concerns about continued flights, even before the outbreak in Guam. This latest appeal by the governor was immediately addressed. We will continue to monitor the situation here on the ground, and I’m sure the governor will request for an extended suspension as needed,” King-Hinds said.

In his March 30, 2020 letter to Dave Baker, Saipan station manager for United Airlines, Gov. Torres requested United Airlines to suspend all inbound travel into the CNMI for a minimum of 30 days except for cargo, medical emergencies, and Covid-19 response-related travel.

“With two confirmed cases in the CNMI, continued inbound arrivals, however limited, divert desperately needed resources away from addressing our immediate need to contain the further spread of Covid-19 in our community. We ask for your cooperation and partnership to allow the CNMI to focus on our immediate Covid-19 response efforts to prevent the further spread of this deadly contagion in our community,” the governor said in his letter.

In his response to the governor and CNMI officials on Tuesday, Baker said, “in support of the CNMI request” United Airlines agreed to suspend flying into and out of Saipan from April 6 to April 30, 2020. In addition, the Thursday, April 2, 2020 flight has been cancelled.

Baker added that the Sunday, April 5, 2020 flight will proceed as scheduled.

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