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By Lindablue F Romero

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (October 5, 1998 - Saipan Tribune)---The Federal Aviation Administration will provide a $3.8 million for the expansion of West Tinian Airport runway, said Carlos H. Salas, executive director of the Commonwealth Ports Authority (CPA).

Salas told CPA board members that this will pave the way for the implementation of the first phase of the project, covering 1,000 feet. The project, which has been long delayed due to lack of funds, would help Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino in its bid to attract direct flights from other Asian countries to Tinian because it will allow bigger aircraft to land.

Expansion of the airport runway will cost a total of $20.2 million while the terminal building with a jetway will cost $24 million.

Based on the plan, West Tinian Airport runway will be extended from 5,600 feet to 8,600 feet to accommodate a B-747.

Additional funding for the project completion is uncertain due to limited FAA funds, but the ports authority is hoping that additional amounts will come from the local government and the private sector.

At the same time, the environmental assessment conducted on West Tinian Airport showed that there will be no adverse effect on the environment when the construction is implemented.

CPA has been very cautious in carrying out the expansion project due to the financial crisis besetting the ports authority.

Meanwhile, the ports authority will also carry out improvement of the existing Tinian Airport terminal to address the current increase in passenger traffic.

Last month, the ports authority issued an invitation for companies to bid on the planned terminal expansion from 2,300 to 2,800 square feet to provide more space for airline use the Immigration and Customs office inspection area.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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