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Micronesian leaders agree to explore expansion of air service in the region

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

The Micronesian Islands Forum concluded this week with Pacific island leaders agreeing to explore more options to expand air travel service in the region, which they noted was the "most expensive in the world.”

Air transportation was among the highlights of the communique signed by Pacific leaders, who "demand fair and reasonable pricing" from carriers serving the region.

Following two days of discussions on emerging issues and proposed action, regional leaders from Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, the the Northern Mariana Islands, and the States of the FSM, Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap gathered on Wednesday evening to sign the 26th Micronesian Islands Forum Communique. 

They resolved to begin a dialogue to establish market-comparable pricing that is fair and reasonable.

Recommendations included partnering with Australia, Nauru and Fiji to explore other potential airline services to Micronesia, including expanding current air transportation routes and services.

In addition to the Communique, regional leaders signed a letter to President Biden to take action and support efforts to address invasive species issues, namely the coconut rhinoceros beetle, invasive ants, and biocontrol.

The letter states, “Our finite natural and cultural island resources are threatened by climate change and invasive species. We know from your Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC) that the long lasting and devastating impacts of invasive species reduce climate change resiliency by altering ecosystem structure and function, while also negatively impacting livelihoods, quality of life, food security, and culture.”

Leaders urged the president to incorporate invasive species efforts into the US Pacific Partnership Strategy, implement the DoD-funded Regional Biosecurity Plan for Micronesia and Hawaii, and fund independent Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) so all islands associated with the U.S. military buildup can perform this assessment and make informed recommendations and decisions. 

The signing of the Communique is the final action of MIF 2024. It reflects the reports and recommendations from regional leaders and the actions moving forward. This year, Guam hosted the regional intergovernmental organization, which has met annually since its establishment in 1994. MIF 2025 will be hosted by the Marshall Islands. 

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