Koror — Delta Airlines is cutting its Palau- Saipan route effective May 6 and Palau officials are seeking to tap other carriers to fill the looming air travel gap.
Minister Charles Obichang of Public Infrastructure Industries and Commerce said Palau will ask Delta to reconsider its decision pending further discussion.
In a statement, Delta Air Lines stated that decision was due to a lower demand, in the Micronesia market. Delta operates a B-757 to Saipan and Palau but it will return to mainland U.S. due to high demand in the states, according to the company.
The Palau Visitors Authority underscored the need to reach out to the other airlines servicing Palau such as Korean, China and Asiana Airlines “to pick up the slack” while the government starts looking for options.
Ngirai Tmetuchl, chair of the PVA board of directors, said the tourism agency will work with the administration to find a more permanent solution.
PVA Managing Director Stephanie Nakamura said that it’s important that all industry representatives be informed of the planned pullout.
Delta currently flies out of Narita, Japan to Saipan and Palau. It flies to Palau two times a week and is usually on full capacity.
Japan market is a key market for Palau. In 2017 alone, Japan arrivals were recorded at 29,236.
While Delta flies from Japan to Palau in almost full capacity, the Delta company said Other aircrafts currently operating for Delta in and out of Tokyo are the B777, A330 and A350, which requires a longer runway for landing and take-off.
“Unfortunately, these aircrafts cannot land in Palau.”
May 6 will be the last flight after Golden Week which is from April 28 – May 6.
Delta Airlines last year announced that it would stop flying to Guam entirely.
Meanwhile the United Airlines last year announced that will stop flights between Guam and Sapporo, Japan, and reduce the number of flights between Guam and other Japanese cities.