Oct. 31, 2008 — Starting Saturday, Seaborne Airlines will add airport service to its seaplane operation and make a name change.
The airline will become Seaborne Seaplane and Seaborne airshuttle and fly from St. Thomas's Cyril E. King Airport to St. Croix's Henry E. Rohlsen Airport Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.
"We hope to include the late Danish traffic that comes in," ErSelcuk said, referring to Delta's late day Atlanta flight that allows connections with passengers arriving from Copenhagen. The plane leaves Cyril E. King at 6:30 p.m., arriving at Henry E. Rohlsen at 6:50 p.m. It returns from Henry E. Rohlsen at 7:15 p.m., reaching Cyril E. King at 7:35 p.m. These flights may be booked online or by phone.
Previously, Seaborne had to stop flying at sunset because its seaplanes can't operate after dark.
Additionally, Seaborne airshuttle will fly from Cyril E. King and Henry E. Rohlsen to Isla Grande Airport, located adjacent to the San Juan Convention Center and close to doctor's offices, Plaza Las Americas and Old San Juan.
Seaborne President Omer ErSelcuk said federal air regulations mean that service to and from Isla Grande must be operated on a "supplemental basis."
However, ErSelcuk said the plane is available to fly morning and afternoon seven days a week, but the airline can't announce times. To reserve a seat, passengers must call Seaborne airshuttle rather than booking via the Internet.
To promote both the Cyril E. King to Henry E. Rohlsen flights as well as those between those airports and Isla Grande, Seaborne is offering special fares. They must be purchased by Nov. 7 for travel through Dec. 31.
The promotional fares between Cyril E. King and Henry E. Rohlsen run $65 each way. Between the Virgin Islands airports and Isla Grande, the fare is $85. The number of seats at the promotional fares are limited.
Eventually, Seaborne expects to have flights to San Juan's Luis Munoz Marin International Airport as well as Isla Grande. ErSelcuk said Seaborne is currently in the middle of a two- to three-month Transportation Security Administration process that will allow the airline to fly to San Juan International.
The Seaborne airshuttle plane is the same twin engine de Havilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otter aircraft used on the seaplane flights but without the floats. ErSelcuk said that because of weight restrictions the seaplane can carry only 14 passengers, but the airshuttle plane can carry 19 because it doesn't have the added weight of the seaplane floats.
Seaborne expects to add additional airshuttle planes in the late fall.
The airline currently operates four seaplanes.
The addition of the airshuttle service will allow Seaborne to serve more groups because the airshuttle planes will be available to fly during the day. The seaplane seats often fill up with business passengers during the more convenient morning and evening hours, leaving groups to take the less desirable mid-day flights.
"We can carry them at times they want to go," ErSelcuk said.
At Cyril E. King, Seaborne airshuttle's counter is farthest left when facing the counters. It's adjacent to the one operated by Spirit Airlines. Seaborne has its own departure gate.
Seaborne operates out of a separate building at Rohlsen airport. It's located about 1,500 yards from the main terminal and right across from the Doc James Racetrack and has an airconditioned lounge.
ErSelcuk had nice words for the Seaborne employees who made the airline expansion happen.
"It was a gargantuan task," he said.
Seaborne Airlines has operated in the Virgin Islands since 1992. Since then it has carried 1.5 million passengers.
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