St. Croix-based Seaborne Airlines on Thursday marked the start of its new daily schedule of flights between the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina and the islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas and Vieques, in pursuit of business and leisure travelers in the region.
The event — whose highlight was the symbolic “christening” of a Seaborne aircraft on the runway — took place in the presence of a contingent of Puerto Rico public and private sector officials looking to capitalize on new business opportunities.
Seaborne Airlines President Omer ErSelcuk said the expansion comes as a result of a noticeable demand for connections from LMM. Through its nine new daily flights, the company will be adding 300 new seats to serve the island markets.
“We believe there are excellent opportunities at the San Juan airport and, as more low fare carriers enter the market, we believe demand for connections to and from the island will continue,” he said.
Increasing air access among neighboring islands represents a step forward in the region’s economic development, and further strengthens Puerto Rico’s place as a Caribbean hub, government officials said Thursday.
“We are pleased with the results the collaborative agreement established with Seabourne Airlines has yielded so far,” Mario González Lafuente, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, said. “The main objective of this partnership is to build up routes and customer demand between Puerto Rico, including Vieques, and the top Caribbean markets through a comprehensive business and marketing strategies.
“Our goal is to promote niche markets such as medical/health tourism, corporate travel, entertainment, shopping, and pre/post cruise vacations, as well as attract more groups and conventions,” he further said.
At present, air travel to the USVI represents about 27 percent of Puerto Rico’s Caribbean traffic, González Lafuente said. The expectation is to see the market grow by between 2 percent and 4 percent over the next 12 months through Seaborne’s expansion.