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Sunday, October 2, 2022


While St. Thomas welcomes back Continental Airlines after a four-year absence, St. Croix could be on the brink of landing a major carrier as well — TWA.
In an effort to get more direct airline seats into St. Croix, the V.I. Port Authority, the West Indian Company Ltd, and the St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association have been working with Minnesota-based aviation specialists Khiel Hendrickson Group.
The fruits of that labor could be the announcement next week that Trans World Airlines may service St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, said Peter Ross, president of the St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association.
"If it happens, it would be the biggest thing to happen to St. Croix in the past 10 years," Ross said on Wednesday.
While Ross said a "couple of different scenarios" for service are being worked out, he was reluctant to give anymore detail because negotiations are continuing. He did say that in addition to showing demand for St. Croix, the key element in attracting more airlines to the island is the current expansion of the Rohlsen airport.
"What we’re working on is building a hub on St. Croix to service the Eastern Caribbean region," Ross said.
The main draws for St. Croix are a planned runway extension, new terminal and low fuel costs because of the HOVENSA oil refinery. Because of those amenities, Ross said he wouldn’t be surprised to see a regional airline based on St. Croix soon.
Last week, Florida-based Gulfstream International Airlines announced that it will offer round-trip flights between St. Croix and St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto Rico beginning Nov. 1. Gulfstream’s operations will be based in San Juan, but will also have flights between St. Croix and St. Thomas.
Gulfstream will be the second U.S. regional carrier to start service in the U.S. Virgin Islands. At the beginning of the year, Massachusetts-based Cape Air began flights between St. Thomas and San Juan. Ross said Cape Air has also expressed interest in St. Croix.
According Gulfstream officials, the airline will offer seven daily round trip flights between St. Croix and San Juan, while St. Thomas will have 11. In total, Gulfstream will fly 400 flights per week using six, 19-passenger, twin-engine Beechcraft airplanes. The new flights will add an additional 30,000 seats to the Caribbean per month.
Although the daily Continental flight from Newark to St. Thomas, scheduled to begin Dec. 16, won’t directly benefit St. Croix, Ross said that he thinks the airline will codeshare with Gulfstream. That means a passenger could book a ticket directly through Continental to Gulfstream in order to reach St. Croix.
"Hopefully we’ll get some benefit out of it," Ross said, adding that the codesharing "gives us the benefit of at least being on someone else’s computer."
According to the other media reports, the territory is expecting Las Vegas-based Scenic Air to begin servicing the region in the future. Where the carrier will operate from, however, is unknown. American Airlines, American Eagle, Delta and U.S. Airways currently serve St. Croix.

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