Fast-growing regional carrier interCaribbean Airways, which is based at Providenciales International Airport in the Turks and Caicos Islands, plans to begin expanding its network significantly later this year by adding its first regional jets.
Speaking at the Caribbean Aviation Meetup conference in Sint Maarten last week, Trevor Sadler, interCaribbean Airways’ CEO, revealed that the airline will take delivery this year of two 50-seat Embraer ERJ-145 regional jets, but did not reveal from which source it will acquire the aircraft.
At present, interCaribbean Airways operates an all-turboprop fleet which comprises seven 30-seat Embraer EMB 120 Brasilias for airline use and one Brasilia in 18-seat corporate charter configuration; two 19-seat de Havilland Canada Twin Otter 300s; one 15-seat Beech 99; one 10-seat BN2A Islander; and one seven-seat Beechcraft 200 Super King Air.
InterCaribbean will use its first two ERJ-145s to extend its network – which today serves destinations in nine Caribbean countries, including Cuba, and includes a primary hub at Providenciales and other multi-connection stations at San Juan, Santo Domingo and Tortola – “much deeper into the Eastern Caribbean”, according to Sadler.
The airline is also in talks with airports serving eight secondary destinations in Florida and other southern US states about launching service for the first time to the U.S. mainland, according to Sadler.
In addition to providing origin-and-destination traffic to Providenciales, these U.S. destinations would provide traffic flows that would complement interCaribbean’s hub-and-spoke network from Providenciales and its multiple-connection bases at San Juan in Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, he said.
As for its Eastern Caribbean network growth aspirations, the carrier already serves Antigua in the northeast Caribbean from Tortola and might be looking to establish a base there. Antigua’s V.C. Bird International Airport is a sizable Eastern Caribbean hub in its own right and is served from London Gatwick by British Airways, which Sadler said is interCaribbean’s most significant interline partner to date. (The carrier is in discussions with various other carriers about establishing interline agreements.)
However, Sadler said interCaribbean is “in serious conversations” with a total of five island nations or territories in the Eastern Caribbean.
Although he did not name any of the five Eastern Caribbean islands interCaribbean is hoping to serve, Sadler added, “With our [business] model, [any new destination] has got to connect to something, or be a base that connects well to several” other destinations, “so we can layer [EMB] 120s and [ERJ-] 145s on top.”
Given that Anguilla, like the Turks and Caicos Islands, is a British Overseas Territory and so interCaribbean would face few if any regulatory hurdles in establishing service to Anguilla from Providenciales or one of its other bases, it appears likely that Anguilla may be one of the five Eastern Caribbean islands to which interCaribbean is planning to launch service.
Apart from Antigua, which interCaribbean already serves but is multiple-government-owned ATR 72 and ATR 42 operator LIAT’s largest hub, other sizable Eastern Caribbean hub destinations with which interCaribbean is likely to be in talks are Sint Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport and Guadeloupe’s Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport. Both airports are served on a frequent basis by mainline carriers from Europe, North America, Latin America and other Caribbean islands.
Sadler stressed that “the ERJ-145 has three times the range of the [EMB] 120 and 20 more seats”, adding that interCaribbean will use its ERJ-145s for “longer-haul [services] for certain countries”.
This suggests that the carrier could be looking as far afield as Barbados, Saint Lucia and Grenada, the first two of which are served directly from Europe and all of which are served directly from North America, to serve as potential bases in the Southeast Caribbean.