Seaborne Airlines has received its first 34-seat Saab 340B aircraft and plans to receive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification for the aircraft by mid-January, says the carrier's president Gary Foss. The airline is targeting February for the first revenue flights with the new aircraft.
Foss says the airline will have about six of the turboprop aircraft in its fleet by September 2013.
The carrier, based in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, recently announced it would be flying the turboprops on a route between San Juan, Puerto Rico and Tortola in the British Virgin Islands - a new market for the airline.
Seaborne originally planned to commence service to Tortola on 1 October with its 17-seat de Haviland Canada DHC-6-300, which would fly on the route until the Saabs started to arrive. However, the airline delayed the introduction of the route until 8 December to better align with another new route between San Juan and Virgin Gorda, also in the British Virgin Islands, which has not started yet.
Foss says that Seaborne delayed the 1 October start date because it wanted to start service to from San Juan to Tortola and Virgin Gorda simultaneously. He says the busy holiday season makes December a prime time to launch service to both locations.
Seaborne will operate 12 round-trip flights per week to Tortola from San Juan in addition to six weekly round-trip flights from San Juan to Virgin Gorda. The airline plans to operate 49 weekly round-trip flights to the British Virgin Islands market with 3,300 weekly seats on flights in and out of the region.
Because the airport in Virgin Gorda has a shorter runway, Seaborne will exclusively fly the two-pilot DHC-6-300 aircraft on that route instead of the Saabs.