Regional carrier Cape Air is moving forward with its growth in the Caribbean with the start of new service between the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan and the island municipality of Culebra, and between the airport and Virgin Gorda this week.
Puerto Rico government officials and LMM executives were on hand Tuesday to welcome the new routes, through which Cape Air will connect the main island and Culebra four times a day, and thrice daily to Virgin Gorda. In all, the carrier will fly 931 times between February and June.
Those flights represent an economic impact of $1.5 million during the second half of Fiscal 2014, and will generate about 30 new jobs, tourism officials said.
“The Puerto Rico Tourism Co.’s efforts are focused on diversifying and increasing available options for travel to Puerto Rico from the Caribbean, the U.S. and international destinations,” said agency Executive Deputy Director Luis Muñiz-Martínez. “The increase in routes and frequency of Cape Airs service to San Juan strengthen our tourism industry, provide us the opportunity to create new jobs and promote economic development.”
“This is an exciting time for Cape Air, we are providing our customers with greater schedule options and access to more destinations throughout the Caribbean and the new service will benefit travelers and locals alike,” said Linda Markham, President of Cape Air.
“The convenient daily flight schedule from San Juan to Culebra and Virgin Gorda benefit both tourists and local residents. Cape Air’s connectivity and alliances with other airlines will provide an easier and faster connection process for passengers traveling to Culebra and Virgin Gorda,” she said.
The duration of flights between San Juan and Virgin Gorda is of one hour, and flights between San Juan and Culebra take 30 minutes.
Creating new air access bridges between Puerto Rico and the Caribbean is part of the Tourism Co.’s strategy to continue solidifying Puerto Rico’s role as the hub of air access to the region, Muñiz said.
It is estimated that in the next four months, about 5,000 passengers will use Cape Air to visit Puerto Rico.
“We continue working consistently not only on our promotional campaign for our five-star destination, but to attract the largest number of airlines to our island’s airports,” he said. “The Cape Air flights provide an economical option and easy access to travelers which makes Puerto Rico even more attractive for wanting to vacation in the Caribbean.”
Cape Air just took delivery of three, twin-engine, nine-passenger Britten Norman Islander BN-20s that are specifically suited to the needs of short runway markets like Culebra and Virgin Gorda.
“Cape Air keeps building a strong foundation as it continues to invest in its future by adding more planes to its fuel-efficient fleet,” said Markham.
Cape Air has been offering frequent daily flights throughout the Caribbean since 1998. With its Caribbean hub in San Juan, Cape Air operates more than 100 daily flights to St. Thomas, St. Croix, Tortola, Vieques, Mayagüez, Anguilla, Nevis, and now Culebra and Virgin Gorda.