It is a very good possibility that Seaborne Airlines will establish plane service on St. John, but officials say not to expect anything until at least March 2006, according to the airlines vice president of sales and services.
We lost some new captains to normal attrition and it is always challenging to just find new captains, said Omer Er Selcuk. We are not expecting to make a dent in any additional flying until March-ish of 2006 but there is a very good possibility that we will establish service.
The airline is already feeling a pinch in their St. Thomas and St. Croix runs, Er Selcuk continued.
Actually, we are kind of short on our St. Thomas and St. Croix flying and that is our top priority so we must address that first, said Seabornes vice president of sales. Then we are short on our San Juan flying which we need to address next.
The airline official did complete a scouting tour on St. John with Coral Bay Community Council president Sharon Coldren.
I did do some homework in St. John and spent time in Coral Bay where I got a tour from Sharon Coldren, said Er Selcuk. It was basically to see if there are any locations in the Coral Bay area that would work for service.
Possible Coral Bay Location
Coral Bay is a less congested location than Cruz Bay, is home to about half of the population and is on the cusp of development, Er Selcuk added.
It is still a possibility to operate in Coral Bay, but if we did it we would want to make sure that we have everyones support out there, said Seabornes vice president of sales. The last thing we want to do is just fly in for the sake of flying and pick the wrong location and create an atmosphere that is less than receptive.
Seaborne officials will also look for a service location in the Cruz Bay area, Er Selcuk added.
Weve taken the time to formally come over and canvass one area and the next step is to determine safe take-off and landing areas in the Cruz Bay area, said Er Selcuk. We have to determine if we will have a solid dock location or floating dock location or if Enighed would be a possibility as well.
Seabornes craft are extremely maneuverable and can motor around just about anything, the vice president of sales continued.
We want to be respectful, Er Selcuk said. We want to operate in a location that wont create a lot of noise but is convenient and is somewhat of an attraction.
Seabornes two main markets are top priority, Er Selcuk continued.
As far as a time line, we have our two main markets, St. Thomas/St. Croix and Puerto Rico, to take care of first, said the vice president of sales. St. John is on the calendar for next year but we want to do it right by picking the right location and having the resources, both aircraft and personnel.
Seaborne officials are considering cooperating with David Brown of St. John Air Taxi, who is trying to bring plane service to the island as well.
We also spoke to the gentleman at St. John Air Taxi and we havent done anything formal but we would like to cooperate if possible, said Er Selcuk. For two companies to use resources for the same thing, it doesnt benefit the consumer in the long run.
There is the possibility of collaboration it always makes sense to work together on mutually favorable terms, Er Selcuk continued. There is just the establishment of dialogue.
The airline is expanding their fleet from three planes to seven planes.
We have two planes in overhaul and two more we are going to send in which will more than double our fleet, said Er Selcuk.
Seaborne has a site currently being built in Virgin Gorda which will be the site of their next destination.