The Belau Tourism Association (BTA) expressed their concern over the Delta Airlines’ sudden suspension of flights to Palau starting May 6 this year.

In a letter addressed to Palau President Thomas “Tommy” Remengesau, Jr., which was dated February 16, 2018, the BTA said that the news of the airlines’ decision to suspend its flights to Palau came as a shock to the members of the tourism industry here.

“Palau relies tremendously on Delta Airlines to provide air services between Japan and Palau, which is one of our key markets,” the BTA’s letter reads, expressing further that the organization supports any of the president’s efforts to engage with Delta Airlines to nurture an ongoing relationship and identify possibilities for creating an enabling environment for the airline to continue its valuable services.

Island Times previously reported that the Delta headquarters informed Palau agencies earlier this month about its decision to pull out the flights here including that in Saipan, citing the lower demand in the Micronesia market as the reason behind the decision.

Meanwhile in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island (CNMI), Tasi Tours Director Masato Tezuka also urged the administration of Governor Ralph DLG. Torres to lure other carriers to fly the CNMI skies while it prepares for the carrier’s pullout.

“Delta is one of the mega global airlines in the world and their business strategy is more focused on the corporate market than the leisure market,” Tezuka was quoted saying in a report by the Saipan Tribune.

“But if we can promote other airlines which show interest in the leisure market from Japan to Saipan, there will be a big possibility for the Japanese market to come back again,” Tezuka added.

In a previous report by Island Times, MPICC Minister Charles Obichang told reporters that they will send a letter to Delta to further hold discussions on this matter while the Palau Visitors Authority (PVA) also said that it will work with the government to reach out to the other airlines servicing Palau “to pick up the slack” while other options are being looked into to fine a more permanent solution.

The Japan market is one of the key tourism markets of Palau and according to the December 2017 visitors’ statistic report. In 2017 alone, there were 29,236 tourists from Japan that visited the country.  (Rhealyn C. Pojas)