Commonwealth Ports Authority

 

May 17, 2008 -

Continental Micronesia marks 40th year with simple ceremony

Continental Micronesia marked its 40th anniversary with a simple ceremony at the Saipan International Airport yesterday.

Walter Dias, Continental staff vice president for sales and marketing, led the commemoration. He recalled the inaugural flight by Air Mike, as the airline was called then, on May 16, 1968. The historic flight took off from Saipan’s Kobler Field, heading to Honolulu on a Boeing 727-100 jet known as Ju Ju.

“It has been part of our heritage ever since,” said Dias.

He spoke of the many changes in the travel industry since that first flight. From less than 40,000 visitors for the entire region then, Micronesia now receives about 1.7 million visitors. The airline grew as well, Dias said, from 100 employees then to 1,500 employees now.

Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Villagomez, was at hand to congratulate the airline, and to wish it success in the future. “When Continental is successful, the Commonwealth is also successful,” he said.

Dias responded by saying that the lieutenant governor’s remark also works the other way. “If the Commonwealth does well, Continental does well too. That’s why we want to see the CNMI continue working toward improving,” he said.

For his part, Marianas Visitors Authority board chairman Jerry Tan expressed hope that Continental would have more flights to the Northern Marianas. He specifically mentioned MVA’s call for nonstop flights from Japan to Saipan.

Currently, Continental serves Saipan with regular nonstop flights from the Philippines and Guam, and charter flights to Rota.

“We’re still hoping we can make something happen in a way, of course, that makes economic and financial sense to the airline,” said Tan.

Senate President Pete P. Reyes, MVA managing director Perry Tenorio, Commonwealth Ports Authority executive director Lee Cabrera, and Continental employees also attended the event.

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