December is a busy time for travel to and fro the BVI as it is the commencement of the tourist season, and a perfect time for holiday vacations — this makes the implementation of the new InterCaribbean service between the BVI and Antigua very timely.
The service officially began on Sunday when the airline arrived for its first of the now weekly trips to Antigua. The Sunday-only direct flight will go as follows: JY634 Antigua Tortola Sun 4:00 pm 5:05 pm JY635 Tortola Antigua Sun 6:05 pm 7:10 pm.
On 13 December members of the media, Tourist Board officials and local airline partner Platinum Port Services (BVI) met the crew and passengers on the Terrance B Lettsome International Airport Tarmac.
Station Manager of Platinum Port Services (BVI), Mr Moses Barrett announced that although the service was new the BVI station had passengers already booked to travel: “Today is the first flight and we already have 11 passengers, and it’s a 30-seater so you can imagine the next flight. We are offering direct flights, best price, best customer service agents as you can see from the pilots and crew. They are ready for the market and there is no stopping us. We will be flying to Antigua on Sundays, but of course once we get our foot wet in the market we are going to increase flights,” he announced.
The Station Manager noted that the airline is not new to the Territory and that the collaboration with Platinum Port Services (BVI) is also not new. “Before we did a few charters with Necker Island. Now we are targeting Tortola and Antigua, and in the next couple of months we will be doing Tortola to Santo Domingo, transiting to Turks , then off to Jamaica.”
“We are planning to be very competitive at a very low price, take people where they want to go, and on time…We are here for the long run. We have signs already up, we would not make signs just for the season, we are here for the long haul to make it happen,” Barrett added.
The expansion of the Territory’s airlift ability was lauded by Representative of the BVI Tourist Board, Mr Clive McCoy, who told the media: “This means a lot for the tourist industry. We have another flight coming into the BVI and that’s a huge thing especially out of Antigua, because it can be a great connection persons coming out of Antigua. It’s great for tourism and a chance for us to see more visitors come here, we are ecstatic about it.”
He noted the Territory’s airlift concerns and admitted that more needs to be done to strengthen travel to the BVI: “Of course we need to do a little more to get more flights coming in the BVI, it is one of the things that make this destination difficult to come to because of the airlift. So the more we can get coming in here so better,” he said.
The InterCaribbean Airways service operates a fleet of EMB 120, Twin Otter and BE99 aircraft, with capacity for 30 passengers. The company is based in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and was founded 24 years ago. It connects the Turks and Caicos to The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.
International services also connect Jamaica to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico. Domestic flights are operated in the Turks and Caicos Islands and Jamaica. Winter 2015 sees the launch of non-stop services from Providenciales to Santiago de Cuba, and Havana, Cuba, as well as services to Punta Cana, Tortola and Antigua.