By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Saipan – Less than two weeks after ending service to the Northern Mariana Islands, Asiana Airlines has announced its relaunch of direct flights from Seoul to Saipan.
According to the airline's official website, Asiana will operate four weekly flights from Incheon to Saipan beginning on April 27.
In anticipation of high travel demand during the summer, the flights will be operated daily from July 1 to Aug 27.
“The Incheon-Saipan route has been in operation for more than 30 years since its launch in May 1992, and even during the pandemic, the Asiana airlines continued its efforts to connect passengers through the Travel Bubble agreement,” said Asiana through a representative.
“As the only full-service carrier on the route, Asiana Airlines will strengthen our competitiveness by providing differentiated services from low-cost carriers and cooperating with related organizations, including the Marianas Visitors Authority,” the airline said.
MVA welcomed the announcement, noting that Korea was one of the top source markets for the CNMI prior to the pandemic.
“Asiana Airlines has been one of our key partners in reopening the Korea market in the midst of Covid and bringing us to the level of tourism recovery we have today,” said Judy C. Torres, MVA acting managing director.
“We are very grateful for their continued commitment to the Marianas as a full-service airline, as they serve many business travelers and add greater credibility to our destination with their partnership. Their return helps solidify the Korea market as we continue the work of increasing visitor arrivals, in total," she added.
Visitor arrivals from South Korea for the month were the highest since before the pandemic, reaching about 12,000 arrivals compared to 2,821 in February last year.
By the end of fiscal 2023 in September, the number of available air seats from Korea is projected to be restored to 80 percent of the number available before the pandemic.
Overall, visitor arrivals to the Marianas are 55 percent lower year-to-date compared to fiscal 2019 before the pandemic.