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New Airline in the Wind

Feb. 23, 2005 — A new flight school, aircraft maintenance shop and airline will open on St. Croix this year, an official announced Wednesday.
The new airline, tentatively named U.S. Virgin Islands Airways will
start flying nonstop from Miami to St. Thomas late this year with connecting flights to St. Croix, Sen. Roosevelt David, said at a hastily-called press conference Wednesday.
The 130 passenger capacity flights are needed combat nearly 10 percent unemployment in the islands by creating new airline and tourism jobs, David said.
"Now, it is to be understood that this is a job creating measure," he said. "One job would be one more than we have. We really need the jobs."
David said he spent a decade trying to coax the airline's owners, FalconHead Aviation Virgin Islands Inc., to start service to the islands.
It was not immediately clear where FalconHead has its headquarters nor whom its owners are.
David said businessman Zeke Jackson is president of FalconHead, but could not provide details on where the company is located nor how to reach Jackson. Repeated attempts to reach the airline and other companies associated with Jackson were unsuccessful.
The announcement comes as another airline deal continues to spur controversy in the community.
The Senate subpoenaed and received details of a contract between the V.I. government and Texas-based American Eagle wherein the government could saddled with an estimated $1.3 million in subsidies.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave, who brokered the deal, said some elements of the contract were omitted in the contract given to Senate President Lorraine Berry to meet a non-disclosure clause obscuring pricing structures labeled "trade secrets."
David said the only government assistance given to the new airline has been in a promise by the Tourism Department to help market the new flights – emphasizing there are no government subsidies in the deal.
It was not disclosed Wednesday how much the new airline would charge for tickets or how many flights would be available.
FalconHead will own the new airline as well as an aircraft maintenance shop and flight school to open on St. Croix this year, David said.
The flight school will offer certification and re-certification classes for the roughly 2,600 pilots flying in the region, David said, adding that the pilots won't have to go to the mainland for re-certification.
Connecting flights to St. Croix, where the airline's headquarters will be, will be augmented by direct flights from Chicago and New York soon after, David said.

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