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PALIKIR, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (August 21, 2000 – FSM Information Service)---The first Continental Micronesia Boeing 737-800 landed today at 12:55 p.m. before a small crowd gathered to witness the historic event at Pohnpei International Airport.

The Continental jet had just flown from Chuuk International Airport where it participated in festivities officially opening that airport’s new terminal and runway facilities.

Aboard the aircraft was FSM President Leo A. Falcam, who had boarded the airplane on Guam for its maiden flight through the Federated States of Micronesia.

From Pohnpei, the plane flew on to Kosrae with all but about six seats filled.

The importance of this plane over previous Continental aircraft is its capability to carry a full load of people on all flights, whereas the Boeing 727’s weight restrictions limited the number of passengers who could fill the 150-plus seats depending on the cargo carried.

Speaking briefly before dignitaries gathered at the still unfinished Pohnpei departure lounge, President Falcam called attention to improvements the Continental aircraft is making to the island, calling it private sector driven.

The President pointed out that improving the economy of the FSM by developing the private sector has been one of his administration’s goals since he came into office.

Bill Meehan, president of Continental Micronesia, who was also on the airplane, quickly acknowledged the President’s immediate support of Continental’s offer to bring in the 737-800 a year and a half ago, and the efforts he made in assisting Chuuk in getting its runway readied for the new model airplane.

Meehan said that Continental is part of the family here, and part of the economy.

Meehan presented President Falcam and Governor Johnny David’s representative, Podius Pretrus, with model 737-800 airplanes. Meehan presented Akilino Susaia, Pohnpei Port Authority general manager, with a plaque from Continental Micronesia thanking the Pohnpei Port Authority for its support in bringing in the aircraft.

While Continental Micronesia has been using the Boeing 737-800 elsewhere, because the Boeing 737 engines sit low, the runway at the Chuuk State International Airport had first to undergo repairs before the new jet could land there.

Some facts about the Boeing 737-800: The aircraft costs $50 million. One engine on the Boeing 737 is more powerful than the three engines of the Boeing 727. The plane holds 14 in business class and 141 in economy class. The plane has a crew of eight, plus two associated mechanics. One mechanic only works on the left side of the aircraft; the other mechanic only works on the right side. The airplane also is much quieter than the Boeing 727.

Air Nauru has been landing a Boeing 737 at Pohnpei for some time, but its aircraft is slightly smaller than the 737-800.

Continental Micronesia has been operating the new Boeing 737 from Guam to Yap since the first week of March of this year.

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