79 passengers aboard the greatly anticipated American Airlines 3989 flight from Miami (MIA) arrived at the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (EIS) to a warm Virgin Islands welcome today, June 1.
Passengers were greeted with Virgin Islands culture in the form of dancers, Fungi music, local treats and gifts.
Minister for Communications and Works, Honourable Kye M. Rymer expressed his gratitude to the crew for a successful flight filled with passengers including himself to the Territory.
He said, “A historical milestone is being achieved and I would like to congratulate and acknowledge American Airlines for recognising the potential of the Virgin Islands, as being bold enough to add the BVI as a destination in collaboration through Envoy. This is progress and again this is a ‘Red Letter Day’ for the BVI. This is a positive step for the BVI…Traveling made much easier. Less hassle and may the conversation continue about the runway expansion.”
Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley, a passenger on the flight, also stated that the new non-stop route signifies progress for the people of the Virgin Islands.
“It certainly feels good to deliver the goods of the people of the Virgin Islands. Now these non-stop flights represent a great deal of progress for the people of the Virgin Islands.” He added, “It would certainly enhance our tourism product, as Miami is (American Airlines’) 8th busiest airport in the United States and second busies as an international airport; and indeed it opens up the BVI to the rest of the world.”
The flights are expected to bring revenue to hoteliers, restaurateurs, taxi drivers, artists and all other businesses who can offer their goods and services to visitors.
Regional Managing Director of American Airlines, Mr. Jose Maria Giraldo said, “This is a milestone for us and it is going to be a big next step as we continue to expand our destinations in the Caribbean. This new route will bring the largest gateway that American Airlines has to the BVI. It is now 149 destinations worldwide that connect with a non-stop flight with these beautiful islands.”
The demand for the route’s inaugural flight demand was higher than expected that five additional flights were scheduled for the month of June resulting in two MIA to EIS flights arriving today.
Government officials also welcomed Captain Derrick R. Varlack Jr. on the first flight and Captain Kennard de Castro on the second flight today, who are both American Airline Pilots from the Virgin Islands.
On May 25, the crew of the flight visited the Territory on a test flight that was also successful. At that time, crewmembers were presented with gifts and words of appreciation from the Government of the Virgin Islands.
Additionally to welcome the direct flight from EIS, June 1st is now proclaimed as Virgin Islands Day in the City of Tamarac, Florida. Premier Wheatley and Honourable Rymer received the Keys to the City (Broward County) from the Commissioner of the City of Tamarac, the Honorable Morey Wright, Jr., who also has BVI heritage. He read the proclamation of the day and presented it to Premier Wheatley and Honourable Rymer.
It has been 37 years since the destination EIS received commercial flights from MIA. The previous flight offer was by British Caribbean Airways in 1986, which was a flight that made stops in Turks and Caicos and St. Thomas USVI. The route was in commission for a few months before it was discontinued.
Persons wishing to fly on the non-stop flight to EIS from MIA or vice versa should book flight AA 3989 on the American Airlines website or with any other travel agent or website.
The Government of the Virgin Islands is dedicated to ensuring the continued development and maintenance of public infrastructure in keeping with international standards.
NOTES TO EDITOR(S):
- Photo 1 of 2: Government officials, Tourist Board officials, BVI Airport Authority official, crewmembers and passengers of inaugural American Airlines flight 3989.
- Photo 2 of 2: American Airlines flight 3989 leaving from EIS.