Sleek and pink as it landed at Cyril E. King Airport, Silver Airways’ new ATR 72-600 from Puerto Rico touched down on its inaugural flight to St. Thomas Wednesday morning amid a celebration from the Department of Tourism.
Silver Airways acquired the Puerto Rico-based Seaborne Airways in April 2018, when Seaborne was operating under bankruptcy court protection. Since then, Silver has sought to expand its fleet and last November received clearance to start operating its new ATR 72-600 aircraft, which the company said is designed for “short-haul markets, but with the same look, feel and amenities of larger” planes.
Up to 50 ATR 72-600s have been commissioned and to date, Silver has received seven, which has allowed the company to increase flights within the southeastern United States, Bahamas and the greater Caribbean. According to V.I. Tourism officials, Wednesday’s flight runs in a triangle from Puerto Rico to St. Thomas and St. Croix, before heading back to San Juan.
“In the past, flying between the islands has been an issue, so we are thrilled to have additional flights we can count on that are connectors for visitors and residents traveling in and out of the territory,” Tourism’s Assistant Commissioner of Marketing Alani Henneman Todman said.
Tourism’s visitor experience team was out in full force Wednesday as the plane came in, complete with moko jumbies, snacks, steel pan players and even pink balloons that were tied up around the terminal.
“To have people come off the plane and feel like our destination is strong and ready to receive them is important,” said Henneman Todman.
According to the company’s website, the ATR 72-600 is the latest in a line of medium-range turboprop planes made in Toulouse, France by ATR, a combined French and Italian firm partially owned by Airbus. The company was established in 1981 and has sold almost 1,700 aircraft around the world.
“Every eight seconds, an ATR turboprop takes off or lands somewhere around the world,” the company said.