Skymark Airlines’ Boeing 737-800 landed at the Saipan international airport Friday afternoon, officially launching the Tokyo-based budget carrier’s maiden service between Japan and Saipan.
With 177 passengers on board, Skymark’s debut flight marked Japan’s re-entry into the CNMI market.
The daily flights are touted to help the CNMI recover from a slump in tourist numbers following the onslaught of typhoon Mangkhut and Super Typhoon Yutu, which left Saipan, Tinian and Rota in shambles last year.
CNMI officials and Skymark Airlines executives celebrate the carrier's maiden service between Japan and Saipan on March 22. Photo courtesy of the Office of the CNMI Governor.
In his remarks after Skymark’s touchdown, CNMI Gov. Torres credited the Japanese carrier for “revitalizing a critical source market and creating a direct economic impact on the health and well-being of the CNMI economy.”
Skymark, Japan’s third largest carrier and first low-cost carrier, is based at Haneda International Airport in Ota, Tokyo.
Last year, the CNMI government and Skymark signed a co-promotional agreement that preceded the opening of the direct flights service between Japan and Saipan.
The number of Japanese arrivals to the CNMI plunged wen Delta Airlines terminated its service to this destination.
Emerging from bankruptcy filed in 2015, Skymark operated domestically for a few years before resuming international service last year. As part of its growth strategy, Skymark has set a goal to fill the gaps in competition.
As it expands its fleet, Skymark also plans to launch nonstop flights between Japan and Palau sometime in May.