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By Moneth G. Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Nov. 30) – Japan Airlines has backed out of its plan for 49 charter flights to Rota next year for undisclosed reasons, according to the Commonwealth Ports Authority.

During a board meeting yesterday, CPA Chairman Rex I. Palacios said JAL has "pulled out" of the CNMI for the second time.

He said tour agent Kinki Nippon Tourists Co. Ltd. in Japan informed CPA-Rota of the cancellation.

"We don’t know why" Palacios told Variety. "There was no formal communication or information from JAL. Our ad hoc committee didn’t even submit updates. All information came from the tour agents in Japan that initially worked on the JAL proposal."

He said it was good thing that Continental Micronesia Inc. has proposed bringing 42 charter flights to Rota beginning in February next year.

[PIR editor’s note: According to a separate story today in the Marianas Variety, Continental Micronesia has presented the board of Commonwealth Ports Authority with a plan to operate 49 charter flights to Rota starting next year. The planned service, between Japan and Rota, would take place between February and December 2008].

Palacios said they now want all flight proposals formally presented to the board.

Japan remains the CNMI’s top tourist market.

Last month, a law was enacted to appropriate $800,000 for the procurement of airport equipment for Rota as part of preparations for JAL’s charter flights.

JAL was supposed to use 737 aircraft with a seat capacity of 140 passengers, the charter flights being estimated to bring in over 7,000 tourists to the CNMI

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