St. Croix will welcome the return of Delta Air Lines this winter with nonstop air service from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the Tourism Department said in a Friday news release.
Bevan Springer of Marketplace Excellence, a Tourism contractor, said it’s been at least two years since Delta flew into St. Croix.
Flights will run on Saturdays from Dec. 20, 2014 to May 10, 2015. Tickets will be available for purchase starting Saturday.
"We are committed to bolstering service to the entire territory and these new flights are part and parcel of our strategy," Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty said.
According to the press release, the new flights represent Delta’s strengthened commitment to the territory.
The new St. Croix service will operate on MD-88 aircraft with 149 seats and will be backed by a joint marketing strategy between the airline and Tourism.
"We anticipate promoting this service throughout the Atlanta metro area and in key feeder markets such as Alabama, Ohio, Minnesota and Tennessee," Nicholson-Doty said.
She said the Tourism team will reach out to the private sector to develop packages and promotions to spur advance sales.
The department’s marketing strategy to support this flight includes utilizing digital and social media as well as television. Several in-market activities targeting consumers, travel agents and Virgin Islanders will also be organized by Tourism.
Springer put the amount of money spent on this marketing effort at about $1 million.
Gov. John deJongh Jr. said the new service will help boost not only tourism, but also the government’s economic development plans across the territory.
"Tourism, small business development and information technology, including broadband, are key pillars of our economy, and we believe that this new air service will advance our efforts in these areas."
Port Authority Director Carlton Dowe welcomed the new service.
"I would like to thank the governing board of the V.I. Port Authority for approving the airline incentive which has been an important element in our negotiations with the airlines."
According to a Port Authority press release forwarded by spokesman Monifa Marrero, the Port Authority will waive all landing fees and half of all passenger fees for 12 months if an airline establishes a new route or increases existing airlift to St. Croix.
Nicolson-Doty noted that efforts are ongoing to enhance additional lift to St. Croix.