Curacao's Insel Air plans to add a fifth MD-80 during the first quarter of next year followed by the introduction of new service to Medellin and Bogota in Colombia and Charlotte in the USA.

Speaking to ATI during the 2010 ALTA Leadership Forum Insel supervisory board member Niko Kluyver says the flights should begin in the April timeframe. Insel Air currently has an interline agreement with Charlotte-hubbed US Airways covering service to Curacao and Bonaire.

Insel already serves Miami daily from its Curacao hub, but Kluyver doesn't envision the Charlotte service cannibalising traffic from Miami.

"A lot of traffic we feed to Curacao tourism now has to go through Miami," he explains. "For some people that might be a hurdle."

Insel Air's flights to Mimai "are very full", says Kluyver, "We see no shortage in demand."

Beyond the new flights to Charlotte and Bogota and Medellin Insel Air in the longer-term is looking to introduce service to Brazil and Argentina. Acknowledging the carrier's MD-80 fleet doesn't necessarily have the range to reach Argentina, Kluyver says the carrier might consider another aircraft type, "depending on what type of work we do with others".

Insel Air turned profits in 2008 and 2009, but Kluyver says the carrier encountered challenges this year with the Haitian earthquake and the de-valuation of Venezuela's Bolivar, which has now normalised. He estimates Venezuelan passengers account for 17% of Insel Air's traffic. Kluyver says Insel Air is moving closer to joining ALTA. The company expects to complete the IATA operational safety audit (IOSA) in January, and hopes to officially join the organisation soon after.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news