SEAPLANE SERVICE TO EXPAND SLOWLY

Speaking at a gathering of the St. Croix Harborside Rotary Wednesday evening, Omer ErSelcuk, a member of the Chicago-based investment group that purchased Seaborne Airlines last month, said one of the company’s first priorities is to construct a new seaplane maintenance and passenger facility at the old seaplane ramp in Christiansted.
Also on tap is the addition of a third airplane. Meanwhile, the company must deal with the "difficulties" left by Seaborne’s prior owners, ErSelcuk said.
"Our motto is, we have to clean up the mess we found when we got here," he said.
The addition of a new hangar and a third plane, which is scheduled to arrive within the next month, will, he added, not only increase an already safe, reliable operation, it will translate into a better environment for customers and employees.
"We’re spending a lot of money to keep the airplanes safe," ErSelcuk said. "We’ve been reliable, but we’re going to make it more so."
Once the foundation of the "new" Seaborne is established then additional routes will be considered. Seaborne now operates daily seaplane flights between St. Croix and St. Thomas, with a staff of about 75 local employees.
The new routes, ErSelcuk said, will likely include direct service from St. Croix and St. Thomas to St. John, San Juan, Tortola and possibly St. Martin.
"There is a great legacy of seaplanes in the area. We have entered into an opportunity that’s incredible. The Caribbean is an underserved air market," ErSelcuk said. "The ability to go city center to city center is something the other (airlines) can’t match."
ErSelcuk and David Ziemer, another member of the group that purchased Seaborne, have relocated to the territory to assist in the management of the company. Both men have experience with United Airlines and British Airways.
"Our number-one goal is to contribute to the economic renaissance of the U.S. Virgin Islands," ErSelcuk said.

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