By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Silver Airways yesterday confirmed it is expecting to resume flights into Exuma in February 2015, adjusting its schedule to a seasonal service rather than a complete withdrawal as had been feared.
Misty Pinson, director of public relations for Silver Airways, stated in an email to Tribune Business: “Our service to George Town was adjusted to a seasonal service. We currently expect to resume flights again in February.”
Multiple aviation industry and Exuma resort sources had informed this newspaper that the Fort Lauderdale based carrier had decided to cease its direct flights from Florida into Exuma, with all impacted staff “paid off” with what was due to them.
The airline’s website stated: “Service is seasonal to Governor’s Harbour and Great Exuma in the Bahamas”. It adds that Silver Airways, the former Gulfstream Airlines prior to being bought out of bankruptcy, will also resume daily flights to Bimini in February 2015.
Pedro Rolle, the Exuma Chamber of Commerce president, recently told this newspaper that attracting airlift to Exuma was “a challenge”, and that the loss of any carrier made accessing the island more difficult. Silver Airways’ direct lift from Fort Lauderdale was especially valuable, as it meant travelers avoided having to “layover” in Nassau while waiting for an onward flight. The reduced seat supply could also increase ticket prices into Exuma on other airlines, such as American.
Last week the airline announced that it planned to expand its flight schedule by adding nearly 40 per cent more flights within Florida. Starting November 6, the new schedule will boost Silver Airways’ current operations to more than 560 weekly flights to 10 Florida cities and include 15 non-stop routes within the state.
Silver Airways was formed from the assets of Gulfstream International, whose parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2010. Gulfstream was purchased from Victory Park Capital, a Chicago-based investment firm. The airline operates under a principal code share and alliance agreement with United Airlines. It has a 34-seat Saab 340Bplus and several 19-seat Beechcraft 1900 aircraft in its fleet.