The Commonwealth Ports Authority (CPA) of the Northern Mariana Islands has suspended all new international flights into the territory for 60 days to allow the government to assess local infrastructure capacity against an increase in passenger numbers. The moratorium is dependent on the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) approving the move, reports the Saipan Tribune.

The Marianas Visitors Authority (MVA) has come out in support of the suspension, saying that tourism growth must be manageable. Scheduled flights which are already approved will not be affected.

"The MVA is glad that this will not affect any airline currently serving the CNMI, which is critical. We are aware that it may send mixed signals to airlines who may be interested in flying to the CNMI but I'm sure CPA can handle that," said Chris Concepcion, MVA's managing director.

The MVA reports that Saipan welcomes around 85 scheduled international flights per week. However, local tourism infrastructure has not kept pace with the dramatic increase in visitor numbers, with hotels at capacity, an insufficient workforce, and public utilities feeling the strain.

The past few years have seen a dramatic increase in tourism from Asia, particularly charter flights from South Korea and China. According to an MVA report, January 2017 arrivals were up 37.7% on the same period last year. The number of Korean visitors increased 62%. ch-aviation capacity data shows that the highest number of seats into Saipan comes from Seoul Incheon with more than 7,000 per week, far ahead of second placed Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok with 1,664 seats.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is a territory of the United States, consisting of 15 islands in the northwest Pacific Ocean. The top five scheduled flights by capacity are operated by Jeju Air, Asiana Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, United Airlines, and Eastar Jet.