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BVI Moves a Step Closer to Direct Miami Flights

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BVI Moves a Step Closer to Direct Miami Flights

Unread post by bimjim » Mon Feb 20, 2017

http://www.aviationpros.com/news/123071 ... mi-flights

BVI Moves a Step Closer to Direct Miami Flights
Jonathan Austin
Feb 19, 2017

BVI Airways has been approved by British authorities to fly direct between Miami and Tortola, and it has now applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation for clearance to make the international connection. The airline said it should have U.S. approval within 60 days, which means BVI Airways could begin advertising and selling tickets by April.

BVI Airways has moved its headquarters to Road Town and has signed a contract with a firm to provide customer service agents and ramp and baggage handlers at Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island. BVI Airways has purchased two British-made AVRO RJ 100, four-engine jets with seating for 85, including 12 seats in what it calls premier class.

Sachkia Barnes, a spokeswoman for BVI Airways, said the flights will go to Miami International Airport. She said the airline plans four round-trip flights a week, "leaving Tortola early in the morning so passengers can make their connecting flights" in Miami. She said return flights will be later in the afternoon to accommodate travelers arriving in Miami on same-day flights.

Bob Mann, an airline industry analyst and consultant, said the impact of the direct Tortola flights on the U.S. Virgin Islands economy ultimately depends on the viability of the service, "which from a quick look at the BVI Airline/Airways BAe-100 proposal is far from assured.

"BVI Airways is unlikely to be able to create and carry economic -- meaning profitable -- passenger and cargo loads with the BAe-100," Mann said. "The big winner from any service may be American, which will likely carry some passengers beyond to interior U.S. cities on separate tickets." Mann said U.S. carriers are unlikely to enter into ticketing and baggage agreements with BVI Airways until its finances are deemed secure.

That, too, will be a question for U.S. authorities in deciding whether to grant BVI Airways access to the Miami market. "They look at financial fitness and other aspects of running an entire airline," Barnes acknowledged.

BVI Airways has received a three-year commitment of $7 million from the government of the British Virgin Islands. Barnes said the airline is a for-profit company as opposed to a government-funded project. "It's not the intention to rely on the government of the Virgin Islands," she said.

Neil Smith, financial secretary in the BVI government, said it invested in the project given its strategic role in the continued development of the Virgin Islands economy and connecting the territory directly with its global markets in tourism and financial services. "We have no further comments," he added.

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