THE Marianas Visitors Authority board of directors on Thursday listened to a presentation from Marianas Pacific Airlines, a start-up company backed by Pacific Rim Land Development.
The new airline, which is still in its formative stages, is locally owned and operated, and aiming to connect the CNMI with Australia and northeast Asia in an effort to forge new trade opportunities for tourism, export and import businesses, while facilitating travel for essential services for the Commonwealth.
It will operate as a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration-approved scheduled service Part 121 air carrier, allowing unrestricted operation, with 52 flights a week on seven routes in the next three years using three U.S.-registered aircrafts.
The planned routes will provide access to more than 313 million people in four countries within just a little over six hours of flying time.
William Giles and James Blake, who represented the company, presented an overview of what the CNMI can expect from the airline.
Through this venture, it is anticipated that the company will revive the CNMI tourist economy with over 140,000 tourists from new and existing destinations.
Over 434,000 room nights in hotels are projected as a result, of which MVA would receive 78% of room taxes, equaling $10.784 million.
According to the new airline’s projections, room taxes generated by Marianas Pacific would amount to $13.8 million; hotel and hospitality employees related taxes, $200,000; airline employees related taxes, $250,000; and additional business gross revenue tax, $11.55 million, amounting to a total of $25.8 million in annual tax revenue contribution.
The new airline will also provide cargo and passenger service to promote new industries in the CNMI.
Marianas Pacific projects to bring in over 7,000 tons of essential goods, such as food, spare parts, and electronics, from multiple destinations, an amount that is projected to increase to 8,500 tons by the fifth year.
This would include reliable delivery of fresh meats, seafood, and vegetables up to 500 tons per year from Australia alone.
The company proposes a “gate to plate” service for express two-day delivery.
The new airline representatives said the venture will increase the tourism base in higher yielding market segments to improve the general economic stability.
It is projected that ticket sales will amount to $70 million, and $10 million in freight sales, with total sales growing to $120 million in five years.
An estimated $58 million will be spent with an economic value of $231.34 million annually in the CNMI, the airline stated.
The company also projects that this venture will lead to increased tax revenue, as well as medical and skilled labor recruitment.
The airline said it intends to provide self-sufficiency, security, and employment to the local population in the CNMI, projecting that its more than 165 direct jobs will contribute to the creation of 466 indirect jobs.
To ensure success, Marianas Pacific seeks a partnership with the CNMI government and business entities.
Blakes said marketing and promotion are needed in Australia in order to raise awareness of the Commonwealth and what it has to offer.
He noted that Australians will not visit the Commonwealth for its beaches, given that it already has beaches of its own, but it will visit for the cultural experience.
Giles said the new airline can be up and running roughly a year from now, noting that the company wants to work with MVA to help with the “travel bubbles.”
“We can bring these people relatively soon... Helping you helps us... Just let us know when you are ready... Give us an opportunity to work even faster than we have planned,” he said.
MVA board member Ivan Quichocho said, “We want you to succeed.”
The other board members who were also present for these discussions were chair Ellsbeth Viola Alepuyo, vice chair Gloria Cavanagh, secretary Agida Quitugua, Thomas Liu, Warren Villagomez and Marian Aldan-Pierce who joined via Zoom.