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By Gemma Q. Casas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Dec. 12) - One of Japan’s major airlines, All Nippon Air, will provide direct flight service from Japan to Saipan in 2007, according to Marianas Visitors Authority Managing Director Vicky I. Benavente.

"They (ANA executives) have confirmed that they would like to serve the CNMI in 2007," she added.

However, she said there is no confirmation yet whether the flights will come from the newly opened Haneda International Airport or from Narita.

Benavente said ANA’s commitment is the result of the improving economic situation in Japan.

"ANA has always looked at the economic factors in Japan, and it looks like Japan’s economy is starting to pick up, becoming a little bit healthier, and more robust than it was two years ago," said the MVA managing director. "So it’s very exciting when airlines see that the economy is doing well. They know that consumers are going to spend more money and they will start to travel more."

ANA, which will turn 53 years old on Dec. 27, has been named the best airline for flights between Japan, North America, Europe and Asia/Oceania by Nikkei Business Magazine, one of Japan’ leading business publications.

Japan Airlines, Japan’s flag carrier, discontinued its direct flight service between Tokyo and Saipan starting in October.

During the two months of JAL’s absence, Japanese arrivals to Saipan have dropped 25 percent which equates to nearly 15,000 fewer Japanese tourists..

December 12, 2005

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