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Advance Notice by VIPA: Anticipate Travel Delays at Rohlsen Airport Post-Holiday Season

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Passengers formed extensive lines at Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, as many prepared to leave the island. Photo by V.I. CONSORTIUM.

In a proactive move, the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) issued an advisory on Tuesday, alerting travelers about potential processing delays at St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (STX). This advisory comes in the wake of heightened travel activity following the holiday festivities.

VIPA strongly recommends that passengers plan to arrive at the airport no less than three hours before their flight’s scheduled departure. This precaution is aimed at providing travelers with sufficient time to navigate through the necessary pre-clearance screenings comfortably.

The advisory is particularly pertinent as a significant number of travelers are embarking on their return journeys or continuing to other destinations after enjoying the post-holiday festivals in St. Croix. This influx is expected to result in extended processing times, and VIPA’s suggestion for early airport arrival is intended to minimize any potential stress for travelers.

Furthermore, VIPA advises passengers to keep in constant contact with their airlines for real-time updates on their flight statuses. Staying informed about any changes in flight schedules is crucial for travelers to adjust their plans accordingly and evade foreseeable delays.

Through this notice, VIPA aims to streamline the travel process for passengers during this bustling period at Rohlsen Airport, enhancing their overall experience.

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Bohlke International Aviation Crowned as Top Fixed-Base Operator in the Caribbean

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Bohlke International Aviation recently earned the prestigious title of Best Caribbean Fixed-Base Operator (FBO) in the 2024 Preferences Regarding Aviation Services and Equipment (PRASE) Survey. The accolade was announced by Professional Pilot magazine, which conducts this annual survey.

Industry leaders including executives, aviation managers, chief pilots, and CEOs, participated in the survey. They evaluated various FBOs based on several criteria, including Line Team, Customer Service Representatives (CSRs), Facility, Amenities, Promptness & Efficiency, and Value for Price. Achieving an impressive overall score of 9.65, Bohlke International Aviation stood out from its peers.

William Bohlke, the president of the company, shared his enthusiasm and pride regarding this recognition. “Our team’s commitment to excellence and dedication to service have truly paid off, and it’s an honor to be recognized by our customers,” he remarked. He emphasized that this achievement not only signifies a milestone for the company but also for the U.S. Virgin Islands, underscoring its importance in the tourism and service sectors.

The recognition follows a feature on Bohlke International Aviation in Professional Pilot magazine six months earlier, which detailed the company’s growth trajectory over 65 years. The feature story covered the expansion of its charter, maintenance, and FBO services into Puerto Rico.

Looking to the future, Bohlke reiterated the company’s commitment to enhancing the U.S. Virgin Islands as a key aviation hub and sharing its success with the local community.

Established in 1959, Bohlke International Aviation has consistently been at the forefront of aviation services in the Caribbean. The company offers a comprehensive range of services, including a large charter jet fleet, and is noted for its blend of Caribbean hospitality and high-level service excellence. Additionally, it operates an air charter base in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and a significant maintenance facility in Ceiba, Puerto Rico.

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Emergency Landing at St. Croix Airport Averts Disaster

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This morning, an Air Flamingo cargo plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Henry E. Rohlsen Airport in St. Croix due to a landing gear failure, according to the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA).

The plane, a Short 360 arriving from Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in Puerto Rico, experienced issues with its landing gear. Quick action by emergency response teams supported the crew as the aircraft, Flight WAF2203, landed safely without its gear fully deployed. VIPA’s Executive Director, Carlton Dowe, confirmed that the pilot and a crew member aboard were safe and accounted for, with no passengers involved in the flight.

The incident, occurring around 8:55 a.m., led to the temporary closure of the runway. The necessary steps to manage the emergency operations and facilitate the aircraft’s removal were swiftly put into motion. Mr. Dowe has informed the Federal Aviation Administration and is working closely with towing services to clear the runway and minimize disruption.

VIPA has communicated that some flight delays are inevitable for both arrivals and departures but is committed to reopening the runway promptly. An apology was issued to travelers for the inconvenience, emphasizing efforts to restore normal operations with utmost safety.

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JetBlue Expands Puerto Rican Operations with New Direct Routes, Including St. Croix

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JetBlue unveiled a major expansion of its Puerto Rican flight operations today, adding six new destinations, highlighted by a resumed service to St. Croix, effective December 12, 2024. This marks the airline’s re-entry into St. Croix, having previously operated routes there from 2011 until 2019.

The airline will also commence services from San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport to additional destinations including Providence, Rhode Island; Westchester County, New York; Santiago, Dominican Republic; Medellín, Colombia; and Cancún, Mexico. The daily flight schedule for the San Juan to St. Croix route is as follows:

  • Departure from SJU at 3:35 p.m., arriving in STX at 4:25 p.m.
  • Return flight from STX at 5:10 p.m., reaching SJU at 6:00 p.m.

Marty St. George, President of JetBlue, expressed the airline’s dedication to Puerto Rico: “For over two decades, JetBlue has proudly served the Puerto Rican community, and we are thrilled to deepen our commitment through this significant expansion.”

Joseph Boschulte, Commissioner of the V.I. Department of Tourism, lauded JetBlue’s decision to reconnect with St. Croix, noting, “This expansion not only increases our connectivity within the Caribbean and to the U.S. mainland but also opens new avenues for inter-Caribbean travel. We are grateful to JetBlue for their partnership and look forward to welcoming guests to St. Croix, offering them a unique Caribbean vibe.”

This expansion underscores JetBlue’s role as the predominant carrier in Puerto Rico since 2002, enhancing convenient and economical travel options to and from the region. Governor Pedro R. Pierlusi supported the expansion, indicating that it aligns with the government’s strategy to bolster Puerto Rico’s tourism sector.

Additionally, starting July 22, 2024, JetBlue will debut its Mint service in Puerto Rico, offering premium travel between San Juan and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, complete with lie-flat seats and superior dining options. The service will extend to Phoenix, Vancouver, and Las Vegas.

Moreover, the airline will introduce two other Caribbean routes this fall from JFK, covering St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Bonaire, making it the sole U.S. carrier providing direct flights from JFK to these destinations.

To celebrate the expansion, JetBlue is promoting special introductory fares: $29 for SJU to STX, $79 for SJU to PVD, and $89 for SJU to HPN and STI. Mint class fares from JFK to SJU are set at $399, subject to specific terms and conditions.

For more details on these new routes and services, visit jetblue.com, the official website of New York’s Hometown Airline, serving a vast network across the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, and Europe.

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