Possible New Commuter Air Service in Northern Pacific Islands? 

LONDON – US Southern Airways, a U.S-based commuter airline expresses interest in launching flight interisland services commuter service in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands with a joint-venture partnership with local company MP Enterprises.

This deal is expected to finalized in July and the first flight will also be expected to be performed by then.  

The airline is actually located thousands of miles away in Florida that operates around 45 aircraft, mostly Cessna Caravans and Pilatus PC-12s. The announcement was a surprise. 

US Southern Airways will join hands with MP Enterprises. MP Enterprises is a construction and real estate development company in Northern Mariana Island’s capital Saipan run by Keith Stewart.

President of MP Enterprise Stewart stated that the new yet-to-be-named airline is expected to start flying in July, once the US Department of Transport greenlights the relevant paperwork. 

Stewart said that “We are delighted to have partnered with Southern Airways to establish the CNMI’s (Northern Mariana Islands)  newest airline.”

“As one of the largest regional airlines in America, Southern offers scale, experience, and a solid reputation, ensuring the long-term viability and stability of this important new inter-island service.”

The new flying service aims to link Saipan and the islands of Tinian and Rota in the Northern Mariana Islands. The airline also aims to fly the busy Saipan to Guam sector. 

Stewart exerts the importance of the airline flying into Guam. He added that: “Importantly, as the schedule expands the airline will offer same-day connectivity to Saipan with United’s Honolulu-Guam flight, avoiding an unnecessary overnight stay in Guam and, through Southern Airways’ interline agreement with United Airlines, providing the ability to make a seamless reservation from Tinian, Rota, or Saipan to anywhere in the United network.” 

The service will benefit the connectivity, and socio and economic growth of the NMI as a whole. Guam Visitors Bureau Vice President Gerry Perez, stated:

“We are pleased Southern Airways Express will expand inter-island travel in Guam and the CNMI. More options will help support our collective tourism industry’s growing demand and recovery efforts.”

“We look forward to meeting with the airline and MP Enterprises in the future and learning how they can further enrich the travel experience of our island residents and visitors.”

Significantly, the launch of the route will also create demand and elevate the island’s quality of living. Steward said: “the goal was to also meet the needs of interisland travel following a recommendation from Gov. [Ralph DLG] Torres that airlines explore the possibility of interisland solutions that would help lower the cost of flights between Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and Guam. Since COVID delayed the development of an international airline, MP Enterprises shifted its focus to recruiting a partner for inter-island service.”

Moreover, Stewart also added that the airline plans to operate seven aircraft with two Tecnam P2012s on their way. The airline plans to order four or five more aircraft within 2 or 3 years. 

The joint-venture specifically chose MP Enterprises, as they are knowledgeable in the local market. The local company will be largely responsible for ground operations, ticketing, maintenance, marketing, governmental relations and route development.

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