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Silver Airways eyes Cuba flights in 2016

Silver Airways eyes Cuba flights in 2016
Arlene Satchell
Sun Sentinel

Silver is the latest airline to plan Cuba service

Silver Airways is joining a growing list of U.S. airlines eager to offer
scheduled air service between the U.S. and Cuba.

The Fort Lauderdale carrier has announced its intent to offer nonstop
flights to Cuba, possibly in 2016, after last week’s agreement between
Cuba and the U.S. to allow commercial flights between the two countries
to resume in the near future.

In a news release, Silver said it plans to apply to the U.S. Department
of Transportation to serve most, if not all, of the 10 approved
destinations within Cuba, including Havana.

Airlines American, JetBlue and United also have expressed interest in
offering scheduled flights to Cuba when permitted.

JetBlue — the busiest carrier at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International
Airport — currently operates charters to Havana and Santa Clara, Cuba,
from New York, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa.

Sami Teittinen, CEO of Silver Airways. (Arlene Satchell, Sun Sentinel)
American has operated charters to Cuba since 1991 with flights from
Miami, Tampa and Los Angeles to Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Havana, Holguin
and Santa Clara.

The agreement announced Thursday by the U.S. State Department will
continue to allow charter operations while re-establishing regularly
scheduled air service.

The move is expected to help increase authorized travel between the two
countries as travel to Cuba for general tourism is still prohibited.

Silver had a long history of offering charter flights to Cuba when it
operated as Gulfstream International Airways.

Silver was formed from the assets of Gulfstream International, whose
parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November
2010. Its new owner, Victory Park Capital, renamed the airline as Silver
in December 2011.

In the past five years, Silver has worked to transform itself into a
stronger independent airline with a focus on service within Florida and
to the Bahamas. It also has a small presence in the Washington, D.C.,
market to supports its code-share partner United Airlines.

During that time, Silver has upgraded its fleet from older 19-seat
Beechcraft 1900D to newer and more fuel-efficient Saab 340Bplus
aircraft; launched its own reservation system; and moved its maintenance
headquarters from Gainesville to Orlando. It also strengthened its
leadership team and added more commercial partnerships with larger
carriers, including JetBlue.

Silver strives to distinguish itself by operating more routes within
Florida and between the state and the Bahamas than any other airline.
Today it averages more over 100 daily flights to 26 destinations.

In South Florida, Silver’s flights operate from the Fort Lauderdale and
West Palm Beach international airports.

To better position it for growth in Florida and the Caribbean, Silver’s
board of directors has engaged financial advisory firm Raymond James to
help it evaluate strategic alternatives. Those options could include
potential strategic partnerships, growth investments and a merger or
ownership transition, the carrier said.

asatchell@sunsentinel.com

Source: Silver Airways eyes Cuba flights in 2016 – Sun Sentinel –
www.sun-sentinel.com/business/tourism/fl-silver-airways-cuba-flights-20151221-story.html

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