Willemstad- Embattled carrier Insel Air will most probably, for a short period of time, be using the wet-leased Conviasa Embraer 175 to maintain the routes between the ABC islands. The measure is necessary as the company’s only Fokker-50 airplane currently in use, will be unavailable for some time.
Insel Air has been confronted with the unfortunate situation whereby their second operational Fokker-50 has been standing idle in Sint Maarten, from the moment one of the engines developed a problem in-flight on the route between Curaçao and Sint Maarten. It turns out this engine will need to be replaced, which is of course a challenge due to the current cash flow situation at the carrier.
According to information obtained by the BES-Reporter, Insel Air will be taking off one engine of the currently used Fokker-50 and transport this engine to Sint Maarten to be fitted on the Fokker currently parked at Princess Juliana International Airport of Sint Maarten. This however means that, while this operation takes place, Insel Air is left without any operational planes and will therefore have to deploy the airplane it is wet-leasing from Venezuelan carrier Conviasa.
The BES-Reporter understands that Insel Air in the meantime has obtained the necessary approvals from the Curaçao Civil Aviation Authority (CCAA) to use the Embraer on the route between Curaçao and Bonaire and between Curaçao and Aruba. Until now, Insel was only able to use Conviasa’s jet on the routes between Curaçao and Sint Maarten (daily service) and between Curaçao and Suriname’s capital Paramaribo (once per week).
Although Insel Air’s move may seem to make little sense to outsiders, information obtained by the BES-Reporter indicates that the Fokker in Sint Maarten has more time left before having to enter planned maintenance, compared to the aircraft currently in use. By switching engines and bringing the stranded Fokker-50 to Curaçao, Insel Air will assure having at least 1 operational airplane to serve the ABC-routes, while it is working on the addition of at least one additional airplane to the fleet.
In spite of the recent challenges and only having one of their aircraft in service, the on-time performance at the Curaçao-based carrier has dramatically improved in recent weeks, although a limited schedule is currently carried out. The current schedule unfortunately is not always pleasant for passengers traveling between Curaçao and Bonaire. As the first flight to Bonaire leaves at 5.45 AM in the morning, travelers need to be at the airport around 4 AM in the morning, which is considered inconvenient by most.
As the Embraer Jet is much bigger that the Fokker-50, as well as more expensive to operate, travelers can expect a further reduction in number of flights during the deployment of the Embraer aircraft, although it will most probably will be for a relatively short period of time.