- By Jeffrey Teruel
Skymark to operate charter flights to Saipan
In a bid to entice Japanese travelers to the island of Saipan in the Northern Marianas, Japan-based low cost airline Skymark Airlines will be launching a series of charter flights between Tokyo and Saipan this summer.
The nine charter flights will depart Tokyo-Narita and Saipan on Aug. 9-14 and Sept. 20-22. Skymark will use its Boeing 737-800 aircraft with 177 seats, and will be marketed by Japanese-based travel agencies that have collaborated with the airline during its first series of charter flights to Saipan in the spring.
"We extremely excited to see more directly air service from Japan to The Marianas being announced by Skymark Airlines for the summer season,” said Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Priscilla M. Iakopo. “The revival of the Japan market remains a marketing and promotions priority for the MVA, as the market is critical to the growth of our tourism economy.”
Saipan's government and tourism industry officials has been lobbying for air services between the island and Japan as there are currently no regularly scheduled flights on the market. Once hosting the likes of Japan Airlines and Delta providing a stream of Japanese tourists to the island, Saipan lost its last air link to Japan when Delta ended its nearly three-decades long presence in May of 2018. Beyond Japan, the Delta services were also a main link to other parts of the region and the United States. However, the route was discontinued with Delta citing “unsustainable pressure,” and a low market demand.
The current options for travel between Saipan and Japan include connecting via Guam with United, and efforts are being made to turn the charter flights into a future regular scheduled service.
Founded in 1996, Skymark is based at Tokyo's Haneda Airport and operates a fleet of 29 737 aircraft to 11 destinations within Japan. (Flights in Asia)