Updated: Aug 5
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Guam will explore the possibility of reopening direct flights to Okayama and other secondary cities in Japan while stepping up the marketing spiel to recover its share of the market that is slowly reopening after two years of Covid-triggered stagnation.
"The Guam airport pushed our message: we will do our part in developing direct connections to secondary cities," said John Quinata, executive manager of the Guam International Airport Authority.
Quinata is part of the Guam delegation currently visiting Japan to bring the "GoGo! Guam" road show to Fukuoka.
The delegation met with Okayama Gov. Ryuta Ibaragi and Okayama City Mayor Masao Omori.
“Both Gov. Ibaragi and Mayor Omori brought to light the inconvenience of Okayama residents having to travel by train for two hours, and a one-hour transfer from the train station to Kansai Airport to connect to Guam," Quinata said.
United Airlines has expanded its service between Narita and Guam to 11 times a week in June, which will increase to 21 starting this month. United reintroduced the Osaka/Kansai to Guam service on July 1.
United has relaunched its nonstop service between Nagoya-Guam and Fukuoka-Guam this month. The Nagoya-Guam service reopened on Aug. 1 with 39 passengers welcomed at the A.B. Won Pat International Airport. The first Fukuoka-Guam flight arrived on Thursday afternoon, bringing 42 passengers to the island.
"With the added Nagoya and Fukuoka routes, United will have 28 weekly flights between Japan and Guam," GVB said.
Japan Airlines has resumed direct service between Narita and Guam this month, with the inaugural flight that brought 78 passengers to Guam on Thursday. This is the first time JAL has operated this route since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are excited for the relaunch of direct service from Nagoya and Fukuoka this month and thank United for their continued commitment to Guam as our hometown airline,” said Nadine Leon Guerrero, GVB director of global marketing.
“GVB also thanks Japan Airlines for resuming their direct flights from Narita and being a strong supporter of our tourism industry. We warmly welcome all of our visitors to our island paradise and hope they spread the word that Guam is ready to share our hospitality and culture with all.”
Tourism officials said the goal is to seek the reopening of the Okayama service.
"Pre-pandemic Guam and Okayama City had shared a robust friendship-city relationship with both cultural and student exchange programs coming to Guam up until the pandemic, even after direct flights between Okayama and Guam were discontinued in 2015," states a press release from GVB. "With a catchment area of over 8 million residents has long been linked to Guam."
GVB President Carl Gutierrez said the delegation's visit is expected to push Guam to the top of competing destinations with the Japanese market.
“Our successful meeting with Gov. Ibaragi is exactly why we planned this visit, reaching out to prefectural governments and strengthening our friendship-city relationships as Japan starts to loosen restrictions for international travel," he said.
The delegation also included Milton Morinaga, chair of the GVB board,
“By the early evening, Mori, the head of the aviation planning and promotion for Okayama prefecture called my Japan team on behalf of Governor Ibaragi, committing both the Okayama Prefectural Government’s and Okayama City’s full support of this cooperative relationship," Gutierrez said.