Cape Air woes continue with more flight cancellations - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Cape Air woes continue with more flight cancellations

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James Sardea and Tim Frawley had both planned to participate in the Saipan Xterra triathlon event. They were supposed to fly out on a Cape Air flight Friday to make the race by Saturday morning. "I heard about the problems, the cancellations and stuff, so I went early to make sure no matter what, just make sure I get on the flight," Sardea said.

"They pushed it back to the 5:30 flight, which still would have got us up to Saipan," Frawley added. "5:30 came and gone, still no plane and then about 6pm to 6:30 they finally came and told us that all flights were cancelled for that day."

Flights between Guam and Saipan have been cancelled several times in March alone due to weather and technical issues. One flight hiatus even stretched over a week. United Airlines officials have confirmed that the most recent cancellations were again due to maintenance issues. Frawley frustratingly admitted, "I've been training probably about eight months for this race", with Sardea adding, "Training every day for swim, bike, run, and then knowing we weren't able to make it was hard for me to take."

Both were aiming to qualify for the world championship race in Hawaii, and estimate that six other Guam athletes missed the opportunity, as well.

Several businessmen visiting Saipan were also stranded over the weekend following the cancellations, with those athletes who made it to Saipan, worried they might not make it home as they again faced several delays. "It sounds like there's only one aircraft that they have, and it's usually down for maintenance, so that also doesn't give you a lot of comfort that if you do get to fly, you're flying on an aircraft that has maintenance issues all the time," said Frawley. "My thought about this is it's hitting Saipan because tourism is the number one industry for Saipan," said Sardea.

Cape Air's cancellations have been startling, with several more occurring in January and Feburary. Just two weeks ago students who flew to Guam for the Tumon Bay Music Festival were left stranded in Guam, some even flying all the way to Korea just to make it home.

Sardea said, "They're actually saying we can fly from Guam to Japan to Saipan, but it's like that's no use."

Frawley added, "I would hope that maybe United would step in and buy some more planes, I know we used to have Freedom Air here as well, there should be more than one company going up there, it shouldn't be one company with a monopoly. It sounded that just at night there were six to eight flights cancelled, that means people are trying to go back and forth to Saipan constantly, so I don't understand why there's not a reliable service - why United would allow you to purchase a ticket through Cape Air without giving you reliable service, such a large, company like that."

A statement from United Airlines apologized for any inconvenience the cancellations may have caused its customers. However it has yet to offer a permanent solution to the issue.

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