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Marianas Southern Airways launches Saipan-Guam service

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres join the executives of Marianas Southern Airways at the ribbon-cutting ceremony that launched the Saipan-Guam route on Aug. 18, 2022. Photo by Mar-Vic Cagurangan

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

With CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres aboard, the Marianas Southern Airways' maiden flight from Saipan to Guam arrived Thursday, officially launching the service between the two islands and completing the pins on the airline's route map.

"We will begin Saturday with two flights a day between Guam and Saipan," said Keith Sisson, chief of staff at Marianas Southen Airways. "We will be growing that as our aircraft are delivered into Guam and the CNMI."

Marianas Southern Airways, the CNMI’s newest carrier, is a joint venture between Saipan’s MP Enterprises and Southern Airways Express, one of America’s largest regional airlines. It operates the twin-engine Tecnam P2012 Traveler aircraft that seats nine passengers.

Southern Airways has about 50 aircraft systemwide. "The newest aircraft is right here in Guam. It has less than 100 total hours. It came fresh, direct from the factory," Sisson said. "All of the aircraft that will be here are coming directly from the factory."

Marianas Southern Airways, which opened its business in the CNMI in December, launched its Saipan-Tinian service last week and Saipan-Rota route on Monday.

The Marianas Southern Airways offers competition to Star Marianas Air, which has been providing inter-island commuter service in the CNMI and Guam for several years.

"So today is just the first step for what we think is going to be a very successful route network," Sisson said, "We are going to be looking at roughly five to six flights a day between Guam and Saipan by the end of the year, and also, a couple of flights a day between Tinian and Rota."

CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres arrived Thursday aboard the Marianas Southern Airways's inaugural flight to Guam. By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

He said Marianas Southern Airways is hoping to recreate its busy operation in Hawaii where the airline operates 120 daily flights throughout the islands.

"We think that this can be very similar to that," Sisson said. "We are ready to grow and scale this operation to meet the needs of the traveling public -- not only the locals who need to travel between the islands for family visits, medical care, economic opportunities and work, but also for the visitors who may want to take the opportunity to see a few other islands while they are on vacation. It would be a good option for these people to see something new."


Ian Vanderbeek, vice president for corporate services, said direct flights between Guam and Rota will open as the airline increases its fleet.

“It shows that people now have a choice,” he said. “The convenience factor for people going between two islands is going to be enormous.”

Vanderbeek said a new aircraft is coming in from Manila on Saturday and another one coming from Pennsylvania next week.

"The aircraft that we have here now wasn't built yet when we launched this project in December," he said. "It just came out of the production line two weeks ago."

The airline currently offers introductory fare rates that range from $89 to $106 for a one-way trip.

"We want to be lower than anyone else in the marketplace," Sisson said. "We will commit to having a price range that is fair but also one that makes sure that we are going to be here for the long term."

Early bookings indicated that the Guam-Saipan route "is going to be very very much in demand," Sisson said. "But we do not know yet how popular it's going to be because don't have enough inventory until the ticket sales start."

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