AMI: Using $1.6 million in special grants from the Republic of China/Taiwan, AMI relaunched its 34-seat Dash-8 that had been grounded since October 10.The other plane, a 19-seat German built Dornier, has been grounded since mid-August and is unlikely to fly until the end of 2008.The cut off in domestic services caused tens of thousands of dollars in losses to the Bikini Atoll scuba diving business and the deaths of at least two children for lack of emergency medical evacuation services to remote islands.AMI's Dash-8 plane conducted a successful test flight on Monday, followed by flights to inspect seven outer island runways to confirm their status prior to resumption of scheduled service this weekend.
OUTER ISLANDS: Air Marshall Islands flew its first commercial revenue-generating flights Tuesday afternoon, bringing passengers in from Jaluit and Kili. “We had a full flight inbound,” said an obviously delighted AMI general manager Dan Fitzpatrick.AMI’s Dash-8 conducted a successful test flight on Monday, followed by flights to Kili, Jaluit and Namdrik on Tuesday to inspect runways. Fitzpatrick said the Kili and Jaluit runways checked out fine, allowing the plane to transport passengers on the flight back from these two islands. On Wednesday, the Dash-8 was to fly to the other four outer island runways in question for inspections: Wotje, Likiep, Elenak (Mejatto, Kwajalein) and Aerok (Ailinglaplap). Fitzpatrick said the plan is to fly to Kiribati on Thursday. The Jaluit/Kili return flight, and the planned Kiribati service are the Dash-8’s first commercial flights since October 10 — more than six months with no service
TAIWAN: President Chen Shui-bian has appointed Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng to attend the Marshall Islands' May 1 National Day celebrations on his behalf, legislative sources said yesterday.The Marshall Islands, located in the South Pacific, is one of Taiwan's 23 diplomatic allies. Marshall Islands President Litokwa Tomeing visited Taiwan in March, during which he delivered a speech at the Legislative Yuan. Following Tomeing's speech, Wang expressed hopes that Taiwan and the Marshall Islands will work together to boost exchanges in various fields. He also promised that the legislature will do more to contribute to the realization of bilateral cooperation projects.
SENATE BILL: RMI government officials indicated their concern that the bill does not address compensation needs of the Marshall Islands, which has a petition seeking more than $2 billion for test-affected islands. Government officials in Majuro also are concerned that the legislation could preclude any additional compensation opportunities. The government’s position on Senate bill 1756 is at odds with the leadership of Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Utrik—the hardest hit by the 67 nuclear tests. Pointing to “how hard it is to find money in Washington,” Bikini Senator Tomaki Juda said recently about bill 1756 that “we will not walk away from 15 years of funding.” The U.S. Senate bill ignores the main issue of compensation. But does that make it a bad bill? asked Juda. “No, it just doesn’t go far enough,” he said, adding there was no reason to throw out a good bill just because it is not perfect. Stayman, an influential Congressional staffer because of his experience with the Micronesian region, said he’s spoken to representatives of the nuclear test affected islands “who support the bill” and to a Marshall Islands Embassy official in Washington “who has said the committee should defer action until the national government develops a position.”
MICRONESIA: The 9th Micronesian Chief Executives Summit will start today to discuss several issues affecting the region. Palau President Tommy Remengesau, Guam Gov. Felix Camacho, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and Federated States of Micronesia President Manny Mori will meet at the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center for the summit’s plenary session. Mori arrived here on Wednesday while Fitial and Camacho arrived last night. Foreign Affairs Minister Tony DeBrum arrived on Wednesday.Also attending the summit are Yap Gov. Sebastian Anefal, Kosrae Gov. Robert Weilbacher and Pohnpei Finance Director Thomas Pablo, representing Gov. John Ehsa.Palau is hosting this year’s summit which is scheduled from April 23 to 26.