Senator Sixto K. Igisomar wants to amend the law to allow the Commonwealth Ports Authority to develop and expand air service to the CNMI.
In introducing Senate Bill 19-79, Igisomar said the economic difficulties of the commonwealth are due to the drastic reduction of air service brought about by the departure major airlines such as Japan Airlines and United Airlines.
He said the departure of these airlines resulted in a drastic decrease in the number of visitors to the commonwealth.
Although the Marianas Visitors Authority is doing its best to attract tourists to the commonwealth, MVA’s powers are limited and MVA does not have the authority to offer any incentives to entice airlines to increase their flights to the commonwealth.
Air service is under the authority of the CPA, the senator noted.
Igisomar said MVA and CPA should collaborate to develop a favorable air service incentive and tourism marketing program to increase the air service to the commonwealth and the number of visitors.
Igisomar’s bill will amend 2 CMC Section 2122 by adding a new subsection (t) to read as follows:
“To develop and expand air service to the commonwealth by adopting air service incentive programs, if feasible, and by supporting, petitioning or applying for beneficial federal government air service incentives, subsidies or exceptions including the essential air service program and cabotage exception.
“(t) to do any and all other things necessary to the full and convenient exercise of the above powers.”
Igisomar earlier asked U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan to include the CNMI and Guam in the cabotage exception proposed in a U.S. Senate bill.
The cabotage law, Igisomar added, prevents foreign airlines from traveling solely between two U.S. territory airports.
Exempting the CNMI from this law, he said, “would boost its air transportation traffic and revenue and create more competition thereby driving down airfare.”