DROP IN AIR SERVICE PUTS STRAIN ON ROTA TOURISM

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Aircraft repair cuts number of seats from 70 to 14 daily

By Emmanuel T. Erediano SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Nov. 8, 2011) - Freedom Air flights to Rota, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) can now accommodate 14 passengers only, and this is hampering the island’s already struggling tourism industry.

Since last week, Freedom Air has been temporarily using its seven-seat Navajo aircraft because its Short 330 is down, according to Freedom Air station manager Dennis Cruz.

With the Short 330, Freedom Air usually had over 70 air seats a day, from Saipan to Rota, from Guam to Rota, from Rota to Saipan and from Rota to Guam.

But the 30-seat plane is undergoing its regular maintenance and they are still waiting for parts from the U.S., Cruz said.

He said it may take 10 days before the aircraft will fly again.

In the meantime, they have to temporarily use a smaller aircraft.

For those who travel to Guam, Cruz said, there is still Cape Air that flies on Mondays and Fridays.

In a phone interview yesterday, Senate President Paul A. Manglona, Ind.-Rota, said he is hopeful that Freedom Air is trying its best to get its bigger aircraft back in service.

He himself could not fly to Saipan due to lack of flights.

He said there have been cancellations of flights for transit passengers from Japan and Korea who wanted to visit Rota via Saipan and Guam.

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