After ending service to Guam last January, Delta Airlines announced last week it will cut flights from its Tokyo-Narita hub to both Saipan and Palau on May 6.
In a statement, Hiroko Okada from the corporate communications department of Delta Air Lines attributed this decision to “unsustainable pressure,” including lower demand, in the Micronesia market.
Okada said that Delta is committed to the Japan market and continues to focus on strengthening the airline’s network to U.S. gateways and beyond.
The Office of the Governor, Marianas Visitors Authority, and travel agencies on Saipan were informed Tuesday by Delta headquarters in Atlanta about the planned pullout.
In a separate statement, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said he is genuinely disappointed by this decision.
“I remain committed to the Japan market and the historical and cultural ties between the Marianas and Japan. We will be meeting with Delta Air Lines next week to reiterate our partnership, but we will keep our options regarding the route,” he said.
Torres said the CNMI is “very grateful” to Delta for its 29 years of service to the CNMI and its partnership over the decades.
“It is our collective goal to remain on top of the shifting markets here in the Pacific that includes making sure that visitors from Japan can continue to visit our islands, and our people continue to have viable air transportation through the Narita route, which is a historical one for many of our friends and families,” he added.
Delta acquired flights to Saipan after its merger with Northwest Airlines, serving the island for almost three decades. Travellers heading both ways will soon have to connect through Guam on trips between Japan and the CNMI.
The flights to Palau was first started in 2010, and is the only regularly scheduled direct flights between the island nation and Japan. Japan Airlines also flies to Palau on a charter service basis.