POWER OUTAGE STRANDS AIRLINE PASSENGERS ON SAIPAN

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Two Northwest Airlines flights from Japan

By Moneth G. Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, July 14, 2008) – The passengers of two Northwest Flights from Narita and Nagoya, Japan were stranded for nearly an hour on their planes after a 45-minute blackout hit the Saipan airport at past midnight on Sunday.

Northwest flights B757 and 100 carried 151 and 65 Japanese tourists who were not allowed to go out of their planes until power was back at the airport.

The planes landed at the airport at 1:11 a.m. and 1:25 a.m.

The Commonwealth Ports Authority has two generators but both have broken down.

The airport is using a 150-kilowatt generator as back-up but it can only provide power to the runway, the navigational lights and the instrument landing system.

When the power went off yesterday morning, the first Northwest flight was just 10 miles away from the airport.

It was the second time that a Northwest flight had been affected by Saipan’s power outage — the first was in September last year when 297 tourists were stranded for nearly three hours on the plane.

The inconvenience this brings to the passengers is not good for the island’s tourism industry, a source in the tourism industry told Variety.

"They may be frustrated and upset with the current condition at the Saipan airport and if the situation will continue, this will affect our tourism and economy in the long-term," the source added.

Northwest’s management has already informed its tour office in Japan about the current situation of Saipan’s airport.

It was not yet clear if the airline would make some "adjustments" to its Saipan flights.

Variety also learned that a Freedom Air charter flight from Tinian was advised by its management about the power outage on early Sunday morning. The plane only took off when power was restored at the airport.

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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