Fly Guam inaugurates its new Palau service

Friday, 05 August 2011 01:32 By Jon Anderson | Variety News Staff

HEADED by Speaker of the Guam Legislature Judi Won Pat, a delegation of senators, government officials, private sector executives and media flew from Guam to Palau Thursday morning to inaugurate a new air service by Fly Guam. Officials of the Republic of Palau, including Vice President Kerai Maurier, welcomed the guests on behalf of President Johnson Toribiong.

“I’m here this morning to offer our warm welcome to Fly Guam,” the vice president said, adding that President Toribiong’s administration and the people of Palau welcome Fly Guam and all new businesses bringing investment and visitors to the country.

“We hope they succeed,” he said, “because if they do, Palau will succeed as well.” He urged the new airline to hire local people in Palau for their operations, and also reminded them that the administration is promoting Palau’s unique culture, which he hopes Fly Guam will promote too.

“And last but not least, we ask that we all work together to protect our environment,” said Vice President Maurier, because “this is why we receive visitors from around the world.”

Also welcoming the airline’s first passengers was Senator Alfonso Diaz, representing the Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK,) the legislature of Palau. Diaz, who is the chairman of the Palau Senate Committee on Tourism Development, gave the Guam delegation something to think about.

The senator said immigration officials on Guam “are not very kind to our customers.” He said he has had the opportunity to witness the treatment afforded Palau passengers when they arrive or transit through Guam in the middle of the night. “I made it very clear to Congresswoman Bordallo, that Guam’s immigration attitude and treatment are not very friendly. She made a note of that, and promised to address the concerns to Homeland Security.”

Senator Diaz said Palau is still trying to crack the 100,000 visitor milestone; just a fraction of Guam’s 1.2 million. But, he said, with immigration “so harsh and so rude” to our visitors, that’s not going to help us.

But except for that serious note, the mood of the first Guam to Palau direct flight by Fly Guam was festive and enthusiastic, with many of the guests including Speaker Won Pat opting to remain in Palau through the weekend, returning to Guam on the next Fly Guam flight Monday morning.

The airline expects to welcome a second airplane later this month, and plans to add flights from both Guam and Palau to Taiwan, an important market for the Republic of Palau. Fly Guam launched its independent airline operation in March of this year with flights to Hong Kong via Saipan.

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