Regional carrier Silver Airways has announced it will apply to the U.S. Department of Transportation to serve most, if not all, of the 10 Cuba destinations approved under the terms of the new bilateral air service agreement between Cuba and the United States.
Fort Lauderdale-based Silver Airways, which says it “has a long history of providing charter flights to Cuba”, has also announced that its board of directors has begun evaluating a range of strategic options for the airline.
“The board is now considering several opportunities that will accelerate growth and geographic expansion, including the opening of the Cuban market,” Silver Airways says in a December 18 statement.
According to Silver Airways, which operates Florida’s largest intrastate scheduled network as well as an extensive network between Florida and The Bahamas, its board has begun the strategic evaluation “in light of the recent Cuba announcement as well as several other exciting growth opportunities within Florida and the Caribbean”.
Silver Airways has engaged investment bank Raymond James as its financial advisor for its strategic evaluation of growth and investment options.
According to the airline, Raymond James will help it explore “potential strategic partnerships, growth investments, and a merger or ownership transition that would enhance Silver’s ability to capitalize on these attractive growth opportunities”.
Saying it plans “to bring much needed commercial service to many Cuban destinations in the near future”, including Havana, Silver notes that its operational assets include having United Airlines and JetBlue Airways as codeshare partners.
Additionally, the carrier also interline agreements with American Airlines (including US Airways), Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines, Bahamasair, Hahn Air, Avianca and All Nippon Airways.
Silver Airways says it also has a robust Sabre distribution platform and notes that seats on its flights can be booked not only via its own website, SilverAirways.com, but also through many online travel websites.
According to Silver Airways, its operational assets – which also include a fleet of up to 30 Saab 340Bplus 34-seat turboprop regional airliners and its own maintenance operation in Orlando – position it “extremely well … to operate nonstop scheduled service from various Florida points to Cuba, the Bahamas and further into the Caribbean”.
The management actions taken by new owner Victory Park Capital after it purchased the assets of the bankrupt Gulfstream International Airlines in May 2011 and re-launched it under the Silver Airways name, have nearly tripled the carrier’s annual revenues since the purchase, according to the airline.
However, privately owned Silver Airways does not say whether the tripling of revenues has made it consistently profitable.
“We have made tremendous strides as an airline and have successfully accomplished the main objectives the board set out for us,” Sami Teittinen, Silver Airway’s CEO, says in the December 18 statement.
“With tremendous opportunities in Cuba now emerging just off the shores of our primary market, it is exactly the right time to pursue strategic alternatives for our airline,” adds Teittinen.
“As the board undertakes this process, Silver remains focused first and foremost on operating at the highest level of safety and looks forward to expanding our scheduled service to new Cuban destinations in the near future,” Teittinen concludes.
Silver Airways operates more than 100 scheduled flights a day on average.
Its flights link 26 destinations in Florida (including the carrier’s hubs at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, Orlando, and Tampa) and the Bahamas, as well as linking several destinations in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region with Washington Dulles International Airport.