A new local carrier, Go Fly Airlines, held a demonstration flight today of the type of aircraft it intends to use.
The Cessna Caravan touched down at the George F.L Charles airport.
Mario Reyes, the founder of Go Fly, told the Times that the intention of his company is to acquire five of the 12-seat aircraft at a cost of three million dollars each.
However Reyes disclosed that this would be subject to regulatory approval.
Earlier he explained to reporters that with the dearth of regional travel it was necessary to look at alternatives to the status quo.
Reyes, who described himself as being an aviation professional for the past thirty years, said his company had been offered what appears to be the ideal aircraft for the short hops among the Islands of the OECS providing direct services, compared to the current “hub and spoke wheel” that exists with the incumbent carrier.
He asserted that the system being used by the incumbent seems to take passengers out of their chosen path, resulting in several hours delay.
“Out intention is to operate between, initially, Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Hewanorra and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada,” Reyes said.
He observed that the big question is getting regulatory approval to operate the Cessna Caravan.
Reyes said the aircraft have been around for the past twenty years, but because of the single engine configuration it has not been readily approved in the first instance.
“We are looking to do our evaluations right now and after that we will be presenting to the regulatory authorities the proposal and see how it goes from there,” he stated.
He said the intention is to provide mostly non-stop direct services between the OECS Islands which would eliminate a lot of overnight accommodation requirements and a lot of airport fees.
“You would not believe what it costs – the part of your ticket that goes towards landing at airports and paying a fee,” Reyes said.
He said Go Fly Airlines will be providing a direct service to eliminate that cost factor.
Asked to respond to concerns about travelling on a small single-engine aircraft, Reyes said:
“Because it is new generation in terms of a single engine for commercial operation, the engines are turbo-prop engines and the dispatch reliability is virtually one hundred percent. Out of the twenty-five million flight hours that these engines have accumulated, the failure rate is .00001.”
He asserted that this could be attributed to factors such as carelessness on the part of mechanics.
Today’s demonstration flight of the Cessna Caravan comes amid renewed criticism of the regional airline – LIAT.