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By Lindablue F. Romero

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (April 26, 1999 - Saipan Tribune/Abridged)---Due to the efforts of Japan Airlines and Asiana Airlines to bring in more visitors to the Northern Marianas, the Commonwealth Ports Authority's operating revenue in the aviation division increased by five percent in March, amounting to $893,206, compared to the same period last year.

Despite the gloomy outlook in the aviation industry, due to Asia's financial crisis, Japan Airlines aggressively carried out its own promotion of the Northern Marianas. This resulted in an increase in Japanese arrivals through five extra flights.

Korea’s Asiana brought in additional visitors by adding seven more flights.

Tourism officials, however, have expressed concern over the effect of Continental Micronesia's decision to terminate direct Osaka-Saipan service due to weak market demand. This leaves only two direct Continental flights -- Nagoya-Saipan and Hong Kong-Saipan. Continental passengers from other destinations have no other choice but to wait for a connecting flight from Guam to Saipan.

The aviation division suffered a 60 percent net loss, amounting to $114,865, as a result of the reduction of 16 flights by Continental. Operating expense in the same division dropped 12 percent, to a total of $729,382.

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