Brazil's Gol plans to convert its Santo Domingo hub operation for flights between Brazil and North America, scheduled to start 15 December, into a full Dominican airline operation with local flag carrier status and local traffic rights in 2013.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Dominican Republic IDAC confirms that it is supporting Gol's plan as it will improve the air connectivity of the Caribbean country and make local tourism more competitive.
It is still unclear if Gol actually plans to station aircraft in Santo Domingo or if it will be allowed by IDAC to use its future Dominican air operator's certificate and code to operate as the designated carrier between the Dominican Republic and other countries with Brazilian aircraft and Brazil originating flights. Gol declines to comment when asked about its Dominican Republic plans.
According to a IDAC source, the new airline, dubbed Gol Dominicana, will be set up "in early 2013 by local investors and Gol".
Later this month, Gol will operate its Boeing 737-800 flights from Sao Paulo to Miami and Rio de Janeiro to Orlando via an intermediate stop in Santo Domingo in a mini-hub operation which will be codeshared with Gol's US partner, Delta Air Lines.
During 2013, it plans to add new North American destinations in the USA and in Mexico.
Since the grounding of its former flag carrier Dominicana de Aviacion in 1995, the Dominican Republic has not been home to a major international airline. Nevertheless, the country's aviation authorities have embarked on a major modernisation effort to make the country more attractive as a base for airlines. It recovered its US Federal Aviation Administration category 1 safety rating in 2007, after losing it in 1993.