NEED FOR LASTING NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS

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EDITORIAL

Saipan Tribune Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands

April 19, 2000

PARTNERSHIP WITH CONTINENTAL AIRLINES

The Issue: Arrogance and unsolicited criticism of Continental Airlines is the least that the NMI needs.

Our View: Must explore greater benefits of forging lasting partnership to weather both good and bad times.

A lot has changed since the pioneer days of Continental Air Micronesia flying the far-flung islands between the Taga Stone famous isles of the NMI, Tobi in the Republic of Belau, Nan Madol famous rain garden of Pohnpei and Mili in the Republic of the Marshalls. However, it still is the region's only airline.

Understandably, the more than three decades of training in everything that is government honed into our system (since the old TTG days) a legacy in our nimble minds: political solutions to socio-economic problems mutually shared by new semi-independent and territorial governments throughout the region. It is time that we part ways with tired and old habits that have lost their relevance over the last 20 years.

The familiar golden tail that proudly flies the blue skies of these pearly isles since 1968 is a business entity. Its fleet of jets, new and old, has taken to the skies throughout the region absorbing huge losses during non-peak season. That we are so accustomed to imposing political solutions to economic problems doesn't grant us the right to ruin the partnership that we have forged and nurtured over the last 32 years. It still is a faithful business partner however our adolescent decision to don the role of the estranged half.

This needs to be scrapped and dumped in the Marianas Trench.

However a regional airline, it's an industry in itself, an industry that reviews its bottom line figures at month's end. And even if we are given copies of its financial statement scribbled in red ink, we simply refuse to acknowledge crippling losses by the millions of dollars per month. And we never are short of unsolicited criticisms as it struggles to survive, like other tourism-related businesses, to make ends meet.

Did we lift a finger to work in partnership with Continental Airlines to help it muddle through these bad economic times? Or were we rather quick and long on negativity and awfully short with working together as partners to see if we could also lend a hand to our regional airline so adversely affected in its business operations by the Asian Crisis?

Friends, some semblance of tolerance, maturity and lasting partnership is what we need to work on with business partners be it our regional airline or other industries in these isles. Unsolicited negativity is the least that both sides need today. Si Yuus Maase`!

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