Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE has announced that direct flights from the Virgin Islands to Miami and back, will soon be available through the services of BVI Airways.
This is the first service of its kind, and is themed ‘A Game Changer’: BVI Direct. It is anticipated to have great significance to the development of the Virgin Islands, especially in the area of tourism and financial services.
Premier Smith made the announcement during an official ceremony held on Tuesday, January 12. He stated, “Today, it is my special pleasure to announce that we have made good on that promise of direct flights to and from the United States mainland, by partnering with BVI Airways to have direct flights between the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport and the Miami International Airport.”
Premier Smith said direct flights between Miami and the BVI will commence in the fall of this year as BVI Airway goes through the approvals process with London and Washington.
The Premier reiterated that early last year he pledged to the people of this Territory that within his tenure of the next electoral cycle, his government would solve the problems of air access to and from the British Virgin Islands. He pledged to provide for direct flights to and from the United States mainland from the T.B. Lettsome International Airport and stated that his Government will continue to work tirelessly on the extension of the runway.
The Honourable Premier explained that the Territory’s ability for economic development in today’s BVI is limited by our ability to participate in the global
marketplace through the quick and expeditious movement of people to and from the British Virgin Islands.
The Minister of Finance further added that it is fundamentally critical to the Territory’s continued economic viably and important to its long-term economic development strategy that the Government overcomes the issue of air access as a matter of highest priority. He said direct access for the Territory then means ease of passenger travels to a major international hub, where direct flights from major metropolitan centres around the world can connect to flights directly to and from the British Virgin Islands.
He added, “As a result, we expect consequential infrastructural development in the tourism sector; higher participation of BVI businesses in activity outside of the BVI; and ultimately more employment opportunities for our people. The partnership with BVI Airways is meant to fill the immediate need to solve our air access issues and constitutes another investment by my Government in the continued development of the BVI economy and its people.”
Chief Executive Officer of BVI Airways, Mr. Bruce Bradley welcomed the new partnership, adding that it is a big day for the Government of the Virgin Islands and for tourism. He said they are excited with the leadership that has been provided and the working relationships formed.
BVI Airways will be operational in approximately nine months. The service aircraft is a regional RJ85 which will be converted to accommodate 86 passengers with a two and half hour flight to Miami. There will be afternoon flights coming from the United States Mainland to the British Virgin Islands, and morning flights originating from the British Virgin Islands connecting to destinations in the US mainland, parts of the Caribbean, Central and South America and Europe.
The airline officials anticipate starting with three flights weekly and, as demand builds, there will one flight daily, and in the high season, two to three flights daily. They have also concluded that having a direct service, with gourmet meals and first class cabins, the BVI travel experience will be transformed.
Chairman of the BVI Tourist Board, Mr. Russell Harrigan stated, “As a tourism destination, we will for the first time take charge of our future and our collective objective of building a year round destination, tapping new markets, expanding our annual calendar of events and growing events such as the Lobster Fest, doing more in sports tourism, we will have an airline partner for our summer and fall packages, and yes tapping into the BVI Brand in the financial services space to encourage more persons to do business here as well as vacation in the BVI. Additionally, this flight also has the potential to create completely new business opportunities. ”. The introduction of this direct flight is part of Government’s plans to expand the Terrance B. Lettsome Airport, and to strengthen the economic development of the Territory, in areas including tourism and financial services sectors.