Oranjestad- Fledgling Dominican-based Skyhigh Aviation has expressed interest to serve the Statian market with flights to the Dominican Republic and also between Statia and surrounding islands. This is what the BES-Reporter understood today from official sources on the island.
The company operates various small sized airplanes, among others a Beachcraft 1900 which would, with 19 seats, be the perfect size for the Statian market. The company’s airplanes can fly from St. Eustatius directly to the Dominican Republic, in a total time of about 1.5 hours.
The interest from Skyhigh Aviation for the islands is not new. Last year Skyhigh had also initiated interest to serve the Bonaire to Sto. Domingo route with direct flights, but was forcefully stopped after only a few days by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment (I&M) and in particular the department of transportation (ILT) which falls under this ministry.
At the time the Ministry judged that the airplanes used by Skyhigh did not have the necesary safety equipment installed on its planes to execute regular flights to Dutch territories such as Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
It is, at this point, unknown to the BES-Reporter if the deficiencies observed by I&M at the time have in the meantime been addressed by Skyhigh, in order for the airline to obtain the necessary permits to serve the island on a regular basis. It will most probably be only a matter of time before the Ministry of I&M will look into the renewed interest of Sky High to serve the Dutch-Caribbean islands.
Alternative means of transportation out of St. Eustatius to the region are indeed direly needed. The last time Statia had direct flights to a larger island, apart of Sint Maarten, was at the time when now-defunct Caribbean Sun Airlines was operating flights between the island and San Juan, Puerto Rico. After Caribbean Sun was taken over by and integrated into Liat, the route was stopped.
Another alternative to Winair and the Sint Maarten hub has been Trans Anguilla Airways which, for some years now, is providing connections during some days of the week through its home base in Anguilla. In the aftermath of hurricane Irma it has become painfully clear how dependent St. Eustatius really is of the aviation hub on Sint Maarten. Since the closure of PJIA, travelers out of St. Eustatius have had very few to nearly no options to leave the island. This of course is not favorable to the island.