(Courtesy the Anguillian Newspaper)
After two years of planning, it was officially announced in Anguilla on Wednesday, February 18, that Seaborne Airlines will begin a scheduled service to the island with effect from April 30, with three flights per week – Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. This is the first time that such a meaningful service, providing airlift for up to 34 passengers per trip between San Juan and Anguilla, has been arranged since the departure of the American Eagle.
A full plane load of the airlines’ San Juan -based officials and other persons, flew into the Clayton J Lloyd International Airport in Anguilla at about 10.30 am for the formal launch of the service. Among them was the President and CEO, Seaborne Airlines, Mr Gary Foss. Those who travelled with him included Mari Jo Laborde, Chief Sales and Marketing Office, Puerto Rico Tourism Company; Madelia Ramirez, Medical Tourism Director, Pavia Health System; and Mr Jorey Cancel Planas, President, Economic Development Bank of Puerto Rico and a Board member of Seaborne and members of the Puerto Rican press. The visiting party was welcomed by Mr Haydn Hughes, Parliamentary Secretary, Tourism, at the start of the ceremony which was chaired by Director of Tourism, Mrs Candis Niles.
Addressing the gathering, Mr Foss said in part: “Today, Seaborne Airlines officially announces a new service from San Juan to Anguilla, starting on April 30. “It will be operating as an American Airlines flight which Seaborne Airlines has in place, and this marks the return of the American Airlines brand to Anguilla on bigger planes after a four-year hiatus. So, on that day, April 30, the plane, you see sitting behind us, which is a beautiful 34-seat aircraft, flown by two pilots and a flight attendant, with great on-board service, will land here hopefully full of American Airlines customers from the States. Many of them will be expected to use their American advantage miles to get here to this beautiful island.
“We are going to start the service three days a week – Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, the peak days, and hope to expand from there. With the addition of the Seaborne service, the number of [seats] from the US mainland to Anguilla will increase by 150 percent…Hopefully that will translate into more business for the hotels, taxis, restaurants and everything else here. We stimulate travel with low fares. We are a Caribbean-based airline, and we want to develop local markets and Anguilla will be no exception.” He added: “We will work hard to become the national carrier of Anguilla over the coming years.”
Meanwhile, according to a press release, Seaborne has connecting partners including Air Europa, Delta Airlines, JetBlue and United Airlines. Seaborne and the carrier’s partners offer non-stop service to 32 destinations in the Americas and Europe from San Juan. The airline also has an affiliation with a Spanish carrier that can provide a connecting service from Madrid. “Seaborne’s expanding network out of San Juan has helped solidify San Juan’s position as the Caribbean’s largest hub,” the release added.
Anguilla’s Chief Minister and Minister of Tourism commented: “The fact that Seaborne, a significant airline in the region, has now adopted Anguilla as one of its hubs, gives us great hope for the future of our economy. Anguilla has a one-crop economy. We have only tourism and therefore, we must feel extremely happy today…that Seaborne has blessed us with this connection.”
Mr Hughes hoped that by the next tourist season Seaborne Airlines would find it possible to increase its scheduled flights to Anguilla. He was appreciative of the low-cost fights between San Juan and Anguilla, remarking that Puerto Rico “will be full of Anguillian tourists”