By Harald Linkels
Kralendijk- This afternoon around 3.30 PM, the first American Airlines flight to ever land in Bonaire, touched down at Bonaire International Airport (BIA). The Airbus A-319 was received by quite a crowd and many dignitaries.
Although Bonaire in the past was connected to the American Airlines network through American Eagle flights out of Puerto Rico, the island was never served by American Airlines itself. This in spite of the fact that United Airlines (previously Continental) and Delta Airlines have already been serving the island for years with flights between Bonaire and the Continental US for many years.
The first flight, executed today, seems the beginning of an important connection between the airline and Bonaire. At the signing of the agreement for the execution of first flight in January of this year, Tourism Corporation Bonaire (TCB) manager Maurice Adriaens already predicted that in the end, Bonaire would receive daily flights from American. Just last week American announced that before the end of the year, they would add 3 additional flights between Miami and Flamingo Airport. Although the airline had demanded a guarantee for the execution of the first flight, this requirement was no longer deemed necesary in order to plan additional flights to the island.
Adriaens told the BES-Reporter that he thought the flights to the island were an important milestone. “But this went even faster than I ever imagined”, according to Adriaens.
The first flight to the island was fully booked. According to information received by the BES-Reporter, most flights which will be executed on Saturdays only for now, are solidly booked with little or no space left till the end of the year.
The first flight was met by all three commissioners on the island, the TCB and Miss Bonaire and Miss Tourism Bonaire. Passengers all received a Bonaire bag and were, outside of the baggage area, greeted by representatives in traditional wear. Arriving passengers also received a welcome drink in a reusable cup and local sweets. There was also music made with the Ka’i Orgel. The disembarking passengers seemed very happy to reach Bonaire on a direct flight out of Miami.
In spite of the fact that this was the first flight to the island, the check-in counters at Flamingo Airport were busy from early on with passengers flying back to Miami with the airline.
This evening at around 6.30 PM a special Welcome Party will be organized by TCB at the Islander Restaurant. The flights from American are handled by Bonaire Air Services (BAS), who also handle KLM.