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The Caribbean air-travel scene is constantly shifting, with carriers launching new routes and new airports opening in the region. Some news comes as a surprise, such as Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines offering flights to Cuba; while other news, such as Norwegian’s extension of its New York (John F. Kennedy International Airport [JFK]) service to Martinique, demands quick action, since the service will be shelved at the end of April.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has announced the long-awaited opening of Argyle International Airport (AIA), with an official opening date of Feb. 14. (The project broke ground back in 2008.) AIA’s 9,000-foot paved runway is capable of accommodating jets as large as Boeing 747-400s. The three-floor terminal building will be 129,870 square feet and feature multiple retail shops and VIP lounges. The airport has been built to handle about 1.5 million passengers per year (up to 800 passengers per hour at peak travel times). In addition to the international terminal, there will be a domestic terminal that facilitates travel within the Grenadines islands.
Alaska Airlines recently launched the first regularly scheduled U.S. commercial flights between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Havana.
“LAX is America’s gateway to the world, and today, an exciting new chapter in U.S.-Cuba relations begins at our airport,” said Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles. “I am thrilled to see the first-ever commercial flight from the West Coast to Havana take off from LAX, and grateful to Alaska Airlines for helping connect Angelenos with people and cultures from around the world.”
Daily nonstop flights will depart Los Angeles at 8:50 a.m. and arrive in Havana at 4:55 p.m. Flights will depart Havana at 5:55 p.m. and arrive in L.A. at 8:45 p.m. Alaska Airlines will operate the Havana flights using its fleet of Boeing 737-900ERs.
Southwest Airlines has begun service to Cuba from Florida, with two daily nonstop flights to Havana from both Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, and two daily nonstop flights between Fort Lauderdale and the northern Cuban city of Varadero. Southwest Airlines has also announced plans to fly from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara, Cuba, with dates to be determined.
Last month, JetBlue began providing daily nonstop service between Fort Lauderdale and Aruba on its Airbus A320 aircraft. Flights depart Fort Lauderdale at 11:22 a.m. and arrive in Aruba at 3:24 p.m. Return flights depart Aruba at 4:20 p.m. and arrive in Fort Lauderdale at 6:25 p.m.
Norwegian has added a month to its schedule of nonstop flights from JFK to Martinique. The flights began last November and were originally planned only through the end of March. With the extension, travelers can now plan a Martinique vacation or quick getaway through April 30. Norwegian flies nonstop from New York to Martinique three times per week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Haiti-based Sunrise Airways has added a new 180-seat Airbus A320 jet to its fleet, operating on routes connecting Cuba with Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Up until now, the carrier operated an all-turboprop fleet of ATR 42-320 and Jetstream 32 EP aircraft.
Argyle International Airportwww.svgiadc.com