Hoooray! Now coming to the Virgin Islands will be the same as always. Thank you, American Airlines!!
Aug. 20, 2008 -- As the winter tourism season nears, American Airlines will restore flights it's putting on hold for the fall season, Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty said Wednesday. Initially the scenario didn't look so rosy. "They weren't making a commitment to reinstate the flights come winter," Nicholson-Doty said. This prompted Nicholson-Doty and members of Gov. John deJongh Jr.'s Public/Private Sector Airline Committee to fly to Miami to speak personally with American's senior vice president for the Caribbean and Latin America regions, Peter Dolara, in hopes of convincing American to reinstate the winter flights. On Thursday American will cut one of its two daily flights from Miami to St. Thomas, but both will resume Dec.18.
American's once-a-day flight between Miami and St. Croix will resume Nov. 2. The daily flight between New York's JFK Airport and St. Thomas will resume Nov. 20 after running once a week for the fall. A second flight will be added on Fridays starting Dec. 18. American's flight between Boston and St. Thomas will run on a twice-weekly schedule starting Nov. 2. On Dec. 18, it will run five days a week. While the picture looks better with American Airlines, American Eagle isn't following suit with its flights between the territory and San Juan. "We are looking at various options," Nicholson-Doty said, declining to be specific because of ongoing negotiations. On Friday American Eagle is cutting its eight daily flights between St. Thomas and San Juan to three. This will remain the same throughout the winter season. American Eagle is also eliminating five of its eight daily flights between San Juan and St. Croix. No increases are expected for the winter season. The Tourism Department is putting $1.5 million of its money into partnering with American, Delta and, "to a lesser degree," Spirit Airlines to advertise the territory and the airlines. The ads include radio and newspaper advertisements, billboards and airport signage. Additionally, in Atlanta buses were wrapped with ads touting the U.S. Virgin Islands and a tag line to call Delta Vacations. In return, Nicholson-Doty said, the airlines provided complimentary airplane seats for travel agents, travel writers and sweepstakes winners. In Charlotte, N.C., Tourism is spending $375,000 to advertise St. Croix in radio, newspaper and Internet ads, Nicholson-Doty said. U.S. Airways flies to St. Croix from this Southeast city on Saturdays. "The ads encourage early bookings," Nicholson-Doty said. Other deals, including one to entice Jet Blue to fly to the territory, haven't worked out because the airlines wanted revenue guarantees. In the case of Jet Blue, the airline wanted $1.5 million in a monthly revenue guarantee, Nicholson-Doty said. "That's not within the scope of possibility," she said. Revenue guarantees could result in the territory paying for empty seats, Nicholson-Doty said. "We worked at developing marketing relationships that were a win-win for us," she said.