PIA Ceases Operations

I forgot to mention this last month when the story first broke: Pacific Island Aviation, one of the regional airlines that specialized in the inter island Guam-Rota-Saipan routes, ceased operations last Wednesday. PIA announced the shutdown late last month, citing high fuel costs and the stiff competition from Freedom Air and Cape Air (dba Continental Express). I was sad to see the airline go, I flew PIA several times and always enjoyed it, especially after they became a Northwest Airlines affiliated airline and I could accrue miles flying to Tinian. Here’s the story from last week’s Marianas Variety.

Not Closing, Just Cruisin’ – PIA

by Jude O. Marfil

SAIPAN – At around 8 p.m. Wednesday, a Pacific Island Aviation plane pulled into PIA’s hanger after its final flight.

Upon hearing the whir of the plane’s propeller, PIA’s soon to be jobless employees stopped what they were doing. They cheered, waved and clapped.

After 16 years, the airline had decided to stop its operations.

“We are not closing. We are just cruising,” said in-flight supervisor Marcy C. Cepeda, one of PIA’s 60 employees. “We are here now not to say goodbye but to say thank you for the good memories we have (while) working here.”

The teary-eyed Cepeda add, “It’s been very emotional reminiscing.”

PIA’s marketing director Daisy S. Sablan said they will miss “our working together as a family.”

Sablan is among the pioneer employees of PIA when it started its operations in 1988.

Capt. Michael M. Sato said he is also sad for the CNMI because it just lost the only carrier based in Saipan.

PIA’s competitors Cape Air and Freedom Air are based on Guam.

“The people failed to realize that they just lost one of their own. This is their own airline,” said Sato, the pilot of PIA’s last flight.

PIA decided to end its operations on Saipan due to stiff competition and rising jet fuel costs.

-Marianas Variety Guam Edition, Friday Feb. 11, 2005

I think Continental and Cape Air just killed PIA with their service. Continental ceased virtually all jetliner service between Guam and Saipan and shunted travelers into the nearly hourly Cape Air flights. PIA will continue to offer charter flights from Saipan to Tinian.