By Easter of this year, the Turks and Caicos Islands could have an additional domestic air carrier, as by that time the operators of Sky Cruise Airways are expecting that all of the regulation and operational hurdles should be overcome.
Local businessman Shawn Malcolm, who is one of the partners in the new airline company, confirmed that the Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) has already given Sky Cruise Airways clearance, making their operation a step closer to reality.
The airline will now apply to the local Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for its final clearance for operation, and Malcolm believes that based on its level of preparedness there should be little or no hiccups in Sky Cruise being shown the green light by that regulatory body.
“We have just gone through the ATLA process, which is more like the political arm of the aviation industry. We were hoping that that process would have taken 30 to 40 days or maybe two months. We didn’t envision that it would be over eight months. So, therefore it is a good thing that we have committed investors, as you can imagine waiting around on a license that should not have taken that long?
“But nevertheless, we have now gotten past that point and we are going into the second phase, which is to secure AOC, which is Air Operation Certificate, which will enable us to begin as scheduled locally,” Malcolm said.
In addition to flying locally, Sky Cruise plans to fly within the region and between the TCI and the United States. But according to Malcolm, those processes will take a little longer than its local roll-out, as it will depend on how long the CAA of those countries will be able to grant approval.
“We envision that by Easter – late March, early April – to begin our local operation. We will have to go into the region and secure AOC in every individual country (that we intend to fly) – Jamaica, Antigua, the Bahamas (etc) – that is a process within itself. We also envision that there are some countries (in the region) that it will be relatively shorter to gain the AOC, but we have to plan accordingly.
“Then, of course, our US operation; we have to deal with the State Department and the FAA, to secure the licenses, to operate into those territories, which is a five to six month process. And there is nothing you can do about it, that’s just the process,” Malcolm explained.
Malcolm revealed to The SUN that Sky Cruise has already received more than 200 applications for different areas of operation, including from pilots. Almost all the applications are from local applicants. He said the airline is now busy developing its marketing and operations capabilities so as to iron out the glitches before its roll out date.
Malcolm said Sky Cruise plans to operate Beech 1900Ds for local flights, the roomier ATRs for regional flights and for the Miami/Fort Lauderdale route, it plans to utilize 737s and 300 series, which similar to those being flown by American Airlines.
Malcolm said the start up cost for Sky Cruise surpasses $10 million.