By Bernadette H. Carreon
As Delta Airlines ended its flight to Palau this week, a low-cost airline is eyeing the launch of its service here from Japan, according to Minister of Public Infrastructure, Industries, and Commerce Charles Obichang on Wednesday.
In an interview, Obichang said he has with Japan’s Skymark Airlines to discuss the launch of flights from Japan to Palau.
Obichang said representatives from Skymark recently visited Palau to do their own assessment.
He said when Skymark evaluation is complete, and then a final decision will be made on the flight to Palau.
Obichang said the government has conveyed their support to Skymark adding Palau as a new destination.
“We made it clear to them that we will assist and support in any way we can so that they can start right away,” Obichang stated
He said the government is keen on accepting Skymark to fly to Palau from Japan on a charter basis.
Skymark Airlines is Japan’s third-largest carrier headquartered at Haneda Airport in Tokyo and the country’s largest independent low-cost carrier.
Delta Air Lines has ended its service to Palau and Saipan effective May 6 of this year.
Delta currently flies out of Narita, Japan to Saipan and Palau. It flies to Palau two times a week and is usually at full capacity.
The Japan market is one of the key tourism markets of Palau. In 2017 alone, there were 29,236 tourists from Japan that visited the country.
In a statement, Delta Air Lines stated that decision was due to a lower demand, in the Micronesia market.
Delta operates a B-757 to Saipan and Palau but it will return to mainland U.S. due to high demand in the states, according to the company.
While Delta airlines fly from Japan to Palau in almost full capacity, he Delta company said Other aircrafts currently operating for Delta in and out of Tokyo are the B777, A330, and A350, which requires a longer runway for landing and take-off.
Obichang said other airlines are also eyeing Japan-Palau service, but only Skymark has sent representatives to perform route evaluation.