Willemstad- The embattled Curaçaon airline InselAir will be deploying an Embraer E190 Jet on the route to Sint Maarten and Paramaribo, leased from the Venezoalan state-owned airline Conviasa. This was made public by the carrier today. The first route which will be served by the Conviasa Jet will be Sint Maarten, starting tomorrow, June 28, 2018.
According to InselAir, over the last 15 months they operated the Sint Maarten route with a Fokker 50 turboprop aircraft. This, according to the airline, was a consequence of the re-organization and downsizing of the company, during which the F70 and MD-80 jets were phased out. The phasing out of both types of aircraft lead to an interruption of jet service between Curacao and St. Maarten for 15 months, with an intermittent period in which the airline did re-introduce one of their MD-80 planes. After a few weeks, the MD-80 was however taken back out of service, followed by the decision not to operate the MD-80 aircraft for being “too costly to maintain”.
The use of the turboprop aircraft, according to InselAir, extended the travel time between the islands to 2,5 hours. The carrier says in a press release that during this period they received ‘numerous requests’ from the market for re-reinstatement of a jet service because it shortens the travel time between the islands significantly to only 1.5 hours.
According to InselAir the addition of the Embraer E-190 Jet, leased from the airline company Conviasa is the first step towards the growth that has been planned for the coming year. The carrier says the Conviasa Jet will also be used for the Surinam market and several other destinations which will be announced shortly.
InselAir competes directly with Sint Maarten-based Winair, which also serves the route by means of a ‘wet-leased’ Air Antilles ATR airplane. Many passenger in the past month switched from traveling on InselAir to Winair, especially since the Insel Air Fokker Airplane twice in past months suffered of a stalled engine mid-air on the rout from Philipsburg to Curaçao.
Although the reintroduction of a Jet airplane on the route seems to now put InselAir in the competitive advantage again, it remains to be seen how reliable and durable the arrangement with Conviasa will be.