Leaders of island nations and territories in Micronesia gathered in Guam on Monday for the 26th Micronesians Islands Forum.

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero welcomed the Federated States of Micronesia and its states, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the CNMI, Palau and Nauru.

“Our islands may be small, but we are not. Like the Pacific Ocean, our resources are many and our strength is great. Hand in hand, let us charge ahead to our destiny together,” said Leon Guerrero.

These regional leaders shared challenges common to their people and their commitment in forging forth together.

One key issue in the region repeatedly brought up was air transportation.

Republic of Palau Vice-President J. Uduch Sengebau Sr. highlighted the challenge as tourism numbers continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, it is the small island nations of this world that are the last to recover from international disasters such as this. It is therefore critical that we all work together to develop economic opportunities for our people and their businesses,” said Sengebau Sr.

RMI President Hilda Heine said they must be “United in [their] solidarity and break up the United Airlines monopoly in [their] region.”

“Air transport services are a critical component in ensuring connectivity for our islands and yet it continues to be one of our biggest challenges. Soaring airfares are likely to remain, which means higher inflation rates, higher cost of living and zero future for international tourism,” said Heine.

Nauru Special Envoy Maverick Eoe told the Governor it’s their top priority.
He said their nation’s Nauru Airlines recently launched a direct route from Australia to Palau and hopes to expand air services to Guam.

“These airlinks act as pathways to economic growth, tourism promotion and cultural enhancement, fortifying our unified Micronesian family,” said Eoe.

Meanwhile, the Governor said discussions are ongoing with Guam’s airport to make this connection a reality.