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Frontier Airlines Introduces Affordable $69 Flights from St. Croix to Orlando, Launching in May

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Frontier Airlines, hailed as the most eco-friendly airline in the United States, is set to initiate its direct flights from St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport to Orlando International Airport in May 2024. This inaugural service will be followed closely by another new route connecting St. Croix with San Juan, scheduled to commence in June.

In celebration of this new connection, Frontier is offering special introductory fares starting at just $69, alongside upgrades to Premium Seats available from $19.

Josh Flyr, the Vice President of Network Operations and Design at Frontier Airlines, shared his excitement for the launch, pointing out the significant benefits it will bring to St. Croix. He emphasized the service’s role in increasing tourist arrivals and providing the community with greater travel flexibility to the well-connected hub of Orlando, which serves as a gateway to numerous domestic and international destinations.

Governor Albert Bryan welcomed the announcement as a landmark achievement, highlighting its potential to foster cultural exchanges and stimulate economic development. He commended the new route for elevating St. Croix’s status as a leading destination and expressed his eagerness to greet an influx of tourists to the islands.

Joseph Boschulte, Commissioner of the V.I. Department of Tourism, also praised Frontier Airlines for its ongoing commitment to the region and for responding to the growing demand among vacationers for Caribbean escapes.

The once-weekly service, set to begin on May 25, 2024, awaits government clearance. Frontier encourages travelers to check its website for up-to-date information on flight schedules and availability, which may vary.

Frontier’s dedication to competitive pricing extends to its customizable travel options, allowing passengers to tailor their experience with add-ons like Premium Stretch Seating for additional comfort. Through the FRONTIER Miles program, customers can accrue miles swiftly, enjoying escalating benefits such as priority boarding and fee waivers for changes made ahead of time.

The limited-time offer requires bookings to be made by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on March 1, 2024. Fares apply to nonstop travel on specified days, subject to a 7-day advance purchase. Travelers should note blackout dates, which include March 8-10, 15-17, 22-24, 29-31, 2024; April 1-2, 5-7, 2024; and May 24-27, 2024, potentially affecting travel plans on selected routes. There is no requirement for a round-trip purchase, adding flexibility for those planning their journeys.

With a current fleet of 134 A320 family aircraft, Frontier Airlines showcases its commitment to fuel efficiency. As part of Frontier Group Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: ULCC), the airline looks forward to welcoming over 210 new Airbus planes to its fleet, underscoring its ongoing growth and dedication to making travel across the United States more accessible.

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Travel

Weather Woes: Strong Winds Divert Flights to St. Croix, Affecting Caribbean Air Travel

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Strong winds sweeping across the Caribbean last Thursday prompted an unusual air traffic scenario, with several flights being rerouted, leading to an unexpected gathering of aircraft at St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (HERA). This situation saw multiple American Airlines flights, initially bound for various Caribbean destinations, making an unscheduled touchdown on St. Croix soil.

Carlton Dowe, the Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Port Authority, reported that the rerouting was necessitated by the challenging weather conditions. Additionally, the wind disturbances caused some flights destined for St. Thomas to be diverted to Puerto Rico, further highlighting the day’s logistical complexities. Amid these changes, American Airlines and Spirit flights in St. Thomas faced delays, awaiting the green light for takeoff.

The wind’s force was so formidable that one aircraft, attempting to land in St. Thomas, had to redirect to Puerto Rico, while another chose to return to Miami. An American Airlines service was also canceled, emphasizing the significant disruptions travelers and airlines faced. “St. Croix became a haven for diversions intended for other Caribbean islands,” Dowe remarked, acknowledging HERA’s pivotal role in managing the day’s extraordinary circumstances.

Despite the upheaval, the day saw successful departures from St. Thomas, including a Delta and a Spirit flight. Dowe described the situation as “quite chaotic,” yet underscored that ensuring safety was the paramount concern for the Virgin Islands Port Authority throughout the ordeal.

By Friday evening, HERA hosted four American Airlines and one Spirit Airlines plane, a tangible testament to the preceding day’s disruptions. This event follows closely on the heels of a similar incident the previous Sunday, when American Airlines canceled a flight from St. Croix to Miami due to bad weather, highlighting the ongoing challenges that severe weather poses to regional air travel and the imperative of prioritizing safety above all.

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Lawsuit Filed Against Spirit Airlines After Serious Wheelchair Mishap at St. Thomas Airport

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In a distressing turn of events at Cyril E. King Airport, St. Thomas, a lawsuit has been initiated against Spirit Airlines following a grave accident involving a wheelchair-bound passenger. The case, originally lodged in the V.I. Superior Court, was transferred to the District Court of the Virgin Islands this Monday. Elisha and Sylvia Frazer, the plaintiffs in this case, both of whom rely on wheelchairs for mobility, claim their transfer onto a flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, resulted in a catastrophic incident due to alleged negligence.

The incident occurred on December 22, 2023, when the Frazers were being assisted onto their flight. They were using a lift operated by Worldwide Flight Services, which is also a defendant in the lawsuit. The Frazers contend that the lift, visibly marked with a maximum capacity of 1000 pounds, was excessively loaded. With six individuals aboard — four wheelchair users and two attendants — the load surpassed the specified limit. During the process of aligning the lift with the aircraft door, it was discovered too late that Elisha Frazer’s wheelchair was not secured. Consequently, he suffered a horrifying fall of over 12 feet to the tarmac, resulting in severe injuries.

Elisha Frazer’s injuries are described as life-threatening, encompassing extensive physical trauma, significant medical costs, economic loss, and emotional distress, impacting his overall quality of life. The lawsuit vividly recounts the anguish of Sylvia Frazer, who witnessed her husband’s suffering. Her requests to remain beside him were initially denied by airport personnel, compelling her to board the plane. It was nearly 45 minutes later before she was permitted to exit the aircraft and reunite with her husband.

The legal action accuses Spirit Airlines and Worldwide Flight Services of gross negligence and asserts that their actions, or lack thereof, directly contributed to emotional distress for Mrs. Frazer. Among the sought-after remedies are compensatory and punitive damages, the amounts of which are to be determined by the court.

This lawsuit shines a spotlight on the critical importance of adherence to safety protocols and the need for airlines and service providers to ensure the well-being of passengers with mobility challenges.

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VIPA Greenlights Fee Cut for Fly the Whale’s New Route to Puerto Rico and Showcases Major Territory-Wide Construction Initiatives

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At their recent assembly, the V.I. Port Authority Board of Directors took a deep dive into a myriad of pivotal topics ranging from expansive construction endeavors and fiscal reviews to lease agreement stipulations. A central point of discussion was VIPA’s active engagement in 21 transformative construction projects scattered across St. Croix and St. Thomas/St. John, representing an investment exceeding $115 million. Notably, the $31.6 million Cyril E. King Airport Parking and Transportation Center is on the brink of unveiling its first phase to the public this April, marking a significant milestone in the territory’s infrastructural development. The board also turned its attention to crucial runway rehabilitation projects at the airports on both St. Thomas and St. Croix.

A groundbreaking resolution from the gathering was the board’s strategic decision to support Fly the Whale’s introduction of a novel daily service connecting St. Croix with Puerto Rico. By slashing user fees in half for this new route, in line with VIPA’s 2014 initiative aimed at fostering route expansion and bolstering regional connectivity, the board has reaffirmed its commitment to enhancing the travel landscape within the Caribbean.

The assembly also served as a platform for Executive Director Carlton Dowe to shed light on the breadth and depth of VIPA’s construction initiatives. With 21 projects underway, split between St. Croix (10) and St. Thomas/St. John (11), the over $115 million investment underscores a steadfast dedication to fortifying the territory’s infrastructure. The Parking and Transportation Center at Cyril E. King Airport is especially noteworthy, set to open its doors soon, in conjunction with ongoing runway rehabilitation efforts at the islands’ airports.

Chief Financial Officer Anna Penn presented a financial update, announcing an impressive operating profit of $1.8 million in the fiscal year’s first four months, which outstripped initial forecasts. This fiscal resilience is further highlighted by the completion of several budget items under their projected costs, reflecting VIPA’s sound financial management.

The directors also delved into commercial lease agreements, particularly focusing on the Crown Bay building impacted by a recent fire. Dowe noted the ongoing assessments by the insurance company, leaving the timeline for re-occupancy of the building still up in the air.

The meeting wrapped up with discussions on pending permit applications and construction schedules, followed by a closed executive session where amendments to the United Steelworkers Collective Bargaining Agreement were approved, showcasing VIPA’s forward-looking approach to regional development and labor relations.

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