On Tuesday the date of BVI Airways’ first flight was still a local mystery. However, The Island Sun newspaper has learnt that the airline is expected to commence flying on 22 July.
On 19June the company issued a press release announcing that it has received authorization from the US Federal Aviation Administration under Part 129 of the Federal Aviation Regulations to conduct flights between the British Virgin Islands and cities in the United States. However, the date of the first flight was omitted.
While a date was not revealed in the Territory, internationally an exact day for the first flight was disclosed by a press release issued by the Miami International Airport on 13 June.
The announcement from the Miami International Airport mentioned the BVI Airways flight as one of several new routes the airport attained in its recent network growth. In this regard, the BVI Miami flight was lauded: “The second half of 2017 will include at least four new international non-stop routes at MIA, with the following launches already announced: BVI Airways will begin MIA’s first-ever service to Tortola, British Virgin Islands on July 22, with two weekly flights;” the press release which was distributed internationally said.
Premier Didn’t Mention Flight Date
On the same day 13 June that the press release was disseminated Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith who from the time of announcement to now have referred to BVI Airways as a game changer did not mention the start date.
The Premier was asked questions by Leader of the Opposition and First District Representative, Hon. Andrew Fahie about the date of the first flight: “Madam Speaker, would the Premier and Minister of Finance please inform this Honourable House if BVI Airways/BV Airways has advised the Government of the Virgin Islands of a start-up date for service to and from Miami now that it has been reported that the airline has completed certification in America?
The Leader of the Opposition queried where the public can go to book flights and purchase tickets on BVI Airways/BV Airways to and from Miami to the Virgin Islands, when the service would become operational?
In response, Premier Smith stated that to his knowledge BVI Airways did not announce a start-up-date for service although the airline now has all of the regulatory approvals to fly. “It is still in the process of finalizing its operational requirements; the service is therefore not yet accessible to the public,” the Premier said.
In January BVI Airways received its revised Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from its UK based regulator, Air Safety Support International. The AOC grants BVI Airways authority to operate its Avro RJ 100 jet aircraft from the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island, Tortola.
In May, the company received formal notification of the approval of its license to operate to the United States by the Department of Transport (DOT).
On 12 January, 2016 Hon. Smith announced the agreement to introduce airlift service through BVI Airways’ 86 seat-airplane. The flight was promoted to include a gourmet meal in its first-class section and comfy leather seats in its coach section. Most exciting is that the flight is two and half hours long.
In making the announcement Premier Smith also noted that the Government made an investment to ensure the flight: “The government is investing $7M over a three-year period time. We expect to recoup this money, because there is a sharing arrangement as it goes on…There is no seat guarantee, it’s just an investment to get it up and running which will recoup the money because of the agreement we have.”