Caribbean Sun inaugurated service Tuesday
By John Collins (1)
daily flights to British Virgin Islands starting Thursday with $100 roundtrip
fare San Juan/Beef Island.
Sun (Sun) , a new airline being launched by Texas millionaire banker Allen
Stanford, inaugurated service from Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (LMM)
to Terrance B. Lettsome Airport on Beef Island in the British Virgin Islands (BVI),
said Paul J. Moreira, president of Antigua-based Caribbean Star, at the
The number of flights will be
increased to four daily effective Thursday and the roundtrip fare is $100, said
Moreira. Thirty days later Sun will commence “two to three flights daily” from
LMM to St. Kitts to be followed by St. Maarten and Antigua for which the
roundtrip fare will also be $100, he added.
Sun is negotiating a code
share partnership with “a major U.S. carrier that will permit passengers to
travel to Eastern Caribbean destinations in a seamless manner,” said Moreira. He
declined to identify the airline but did say “it would provide through service
to Eastern Caribbean destinations either via San Juan or Antigua.”
Plans to follow shortly there
after include “extension of service to the Dominican Republic (D.R.) , then
Jamaica and continuing westward,” said Moreira. Sun, an airline based in a Fort
Lauderdale, Fla., was recently purchased by Stanford. Moreira described it as “a
sister company” of Caribbean Star (Star), based in Antigua, which is also owned
The two airlines, which will
operate as separate entities, according to Moreira, have a combined fleet of 12
37- and 50-passenger Dash-8 aircraft with options to acquire six more. “The
difference between the two companies is that one has U.S. ownership and the
other Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) ownership,” said Moreira.
The distinctions result from
restrictions of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the entry of
aircraft based in a Category 2 country into the U.S. including Puerto Rico.
Antigua & Barbuda (A&B) and other OECS countries are subject to the restriction
whereas Sun, which has a 121 operating certificate issued by the FAA, is
registered in Fort Lauderdale, considered Category 1.
Denying that Sun is entering
into direct competition with American Eagle (Eagle), Moreira said “our pricing
will be competitive because we want to bring the people of the Caribbean
together. Eagle plays a vital role in the region. There is enough business to go
controversy a factor
1999 Eagle has regularly predicted 2 million passengers annually but still has
not reached that total. Observers indicate the performance in the D.R. is strong
while it is experiencing stiff competition in some of its other destinations.
Its sale by AMR to Executive Air is currently being opposed by the Air Line
Pilots Association (ALPA).
So the startup of service by Sun gives Eagle another concern but it insists that
it will compete with all existing and new airlines entering the market. It
describes its advantages as its experience, equipment and availability and the
fact that two out of every three passengers it carries connect to or from an
American Airlines flight at San Juan.
A number of aviation experts
point to several areas to watch. Some describe Stanford and his airline team as
“tough guys who regularly conduct price wars to achieve market dominance in
routes where they want to increase sales.” Also serving the Eastern Caribbean
corridor, in addition to Star, Sun and Eagle, are Liat, as well as American, Air
Jamaica, US Airways and BWIA, among others.
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