Home News Local news Eagle Resumes Flights Between St. Croix, St. Thomas

Eagle Resumes Flights Between St. Croix, St. Thomas


Dec. 6, 2004 – Residents can get online Saturday and make reservations for American Eagle flights between St. Croix and St. Thomas.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards held a press conference Monday with Gary Ellmer, president of American Eagle, announcing the resumption of the service which had been discontinued in February of 2003.
In an interview before the press conference in the V.I. Port Authority conference room at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, Ellmer said in 2003 the Port Authority with its fees and licensing had raised the cost of doing the inter-island flights by 25 percent. He said a business decision had been made to discontinue the flights. He said, "We have to control our costs. We are taxed all over the world. Fuel prices are at their highest and ticket fares are at their lowest."
He said the Port Authority had retracted those increases and the airlines had managed to come up with a "fare structure we can work with."
Although the fares have not yet been published, a representative of the airlines said prices between St. Thomas and St. Croix would probably be $60 one way and $114 round trip. Three flights will be offered each way daily beginning Jan. 1.
Richards emphasized that the service will be seasonal at first and monitored on a month-to-month basis. He and Ellmer both said they would like to see the service become permanent.
The first morning flight out of St. Croix will have a connecting flight to Miami. The later flights will connect to Miami and to JFK.
Richards said ever since the American Eagle service had stopped, it was his goal to get it back. He said the problem was not one with customer service, Seaborne Airlines operates regular daily flights between St. Thomas and St. Croix, but one of seat availability.
Often during prime travel times, Seaborne is sold out.
As part of the deal, American Eagle will offer the government 100 promotional seats at $25 each way, every month. Richards said this will enable students to travel back and forth between the islands for sporting events.
Also, there will be a bulk rate for government employees.
Airlines officials said it noted an increase in travel to St. Thomas and St, Croix in the first 10 months of 2004 over 2003 – up 24 percent to St. Croix and up 4 percent to St. Thomas.
Richards said these figures indicated the islands' economy, especially the economy on St. Croix is on the upswing.
Ellmer described Richards' effort to get the service back as "relentless." He added, "This is pretty exciting for Eagle and it's pretty exciting for the community." He said American Eagle looked at its lack of connections to St. Croix "as a void in our service."
Seaborne Airlines responded to the news of the new Eagle flights with a press release.
In the release, Omer ErSelcuk, Seaborne’s chief marketing officer, said "Healthy competition between airlines benefits all consumers and stakeholders in the United States Virgin Islands. And we have always said that what is good for the USVI is also good for Seaborne. Additionally, the new service could mean a potential seasonal boon for tourism in St. Croix, allowing better airport-to-airport connections for stateside travelers arriving in St. Thomas and connecting onwards to St. Croix. Additionally, the new flights could provide an easier way for our St. Thomas bound Danish visitors to connect from their bi-weekly charter flight that arrives in St. Croix."
ErSelcuk added, "While American Eagle may have temporarily chosen to address the capacity shortage between St. Croix/Thomas, Seaborne will continue to offer the most seats, flight choices, and best fares all with the convenience of downtown to downtown travel. I can speak for all of our 120 USVI based employees when I say that we are grateful for and plan to rededicate ourselves to those travelers who made Seaborne the number one choice between St. Croix and St. Thomas three years ago when American Eagle had many more flights then they are proposing today. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, Seaborne is continuing with plans to address the supply shortage between St. Croix and St. Thomas by permanently adding up to 10 daily flights. This new service, to be branded the VI AirBridge, will offer 50 daily flights between St. Croix and St. Thomas and will coincide with the departure of the V.I. fast ferry and proposed end date of American Eagle's seasonal service in May."
American Eagle will maintain its eight non-stop flights daily to San Juan from St. Croix and there will be an added opportunity for passengers to arrive in San Juan from St. Croix by going through St. Thomas.
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