THOUSANDS OF TRAVELERS STRANDED ON GUAM

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By Katie Worth, and Oyaol Ngirairikl

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 29) - Thousands of air travelers were stranded on Guam waiting for flights to take them to their destination yesterday, while thousands more were stuck elsewhere waiting for flights to bring them to Guam.

Dozens of arriving and departing flights were canceled or delayed on Sunday and Monday because of the torrential rains and winds associated with Tropical Storm Tingting, which is now a typhoon.

Still other flights were diverted to Saipan or to Manila after being unable to land at Guam’s Antonio B. Won Pat International Air Terminal.

Most of the larger commercial airline flights began arriving and departing again yesterday afternoon, and travelers began to filter on and off the island. Several airlines said they had scheduled extra "rescue flights" to accommodate the thousands of stranded travelers. Air travel is expected to return more or less to normal by this afternoon.

The airport itself sustained some minor water damage during the storm, said airport Executive Manager Jesus "Jess" Quinene Torres. Though he said that many signs around the airport had been damaged, he said the airport’s perimeter fence remained standing through the storm, so the airport remains in compliance with federal safety standards.

Continental Micronesia, the commercial airline with the most flights on and off the island, was forced to cancel several flights on Sunday and Monday, and to reroute another five to airports in Saipan, Manila and Palau, said Continental Sales and Marketing Manager Lou Sanchez.

As of about 5 p.m. yesterday, a total of 1,000 Continental passengers were on Saipan waiting to come to Guam, Sanchez said. She said the airline was beginning to send a series of extra flights to transport those travelers to Guam.

Other airlines whose schedules were affected by the storm were:

Neither Philippine Airlines nor China Airlines had flights scheduled during the storm, so their schedules were not affected.

Yukiko Chan, 36, a clerk with the Nippon Travel Agency tour desk staff at the Outrigger Guam Resort, said many of the stranded tourists have been understanding of the situation.

"A lot of the flights on the (different airlines) were grounded yesterday due to the weather," Chan said. Nippon Travel Agency and other tour group agencies have customers from Japan and other Asian countries who had intended to fly out Sunday and yesterday.

"Our customers have been really great and really understanding of the situation we're all facing,’ Chan said. "Who can control the weather?"

June 29, 2004

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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