Saturday, November 14, 2015

Airline updates council on plans for Florida Keys Marathon charter service

Fort Lauderdale-based air charter service Tropic Ocean Airways hasn't grounded plans to bring its planes to Florida Keys Marathon International Airport but it is taking longer than expected.

General Manager Ryan Custureri and his crew gave a presentation to City Council Tuesday on how the company plans to operate once it sets up at the airport (pending Monroe County Commission approval). A start date wasn't discussed but flight times and potential economic benefits were.

"I think overall our goals are aligned. The community is expanding rapidly, we're expanding rapidly hopefully it'll work out for everyone," Custureri said.

Plans call for having flights from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport to Marathon Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. Flights would begin and end on the mainland, leaving Fort Lauderdale around 3 p.m. and returning around 4. Hours and days may be changed to meet demand.

Cost of the flights was not discussed.

A nine-passenger Cessna Grand Caravan EX will most likely be the aircraft of choice, leaving from a private terminal at Sheltair Aviation Services in Fort Lauderdale.

While Custureri and his team are optimistic about their proposed operation, past airline service in Marathon has been short-lived.

Delta Airlines had flights from Atlanta to Marathon in February 2007 but stopped five months later, saying the runway is too short. Startup carrier Gator Air came in March 2008, advertising twice-daily flights from Marathon to Fort Lauderdale for $59.

Monroe County suspended the Gator after numerous passenger complaints and a Federal Aviation Administration investigation for posting subcontractor Aztec Airways' flight schedule on its website. Aztec had a 135 certificate, which limited the company to four flights a week to any given market.

Custureri said he believes his company could generate more than $1 million for Marathon through tourist dollars and employment.

Also at the Marathon airport is an under-construction U.S. Customs and Border Protection office for an international port of entry. Thomas Henderson, assistant director of airports for Monroe County, said the facility is considered "substantially completed."

"Customs will start moving in their IT equipment and actually start taking possession of the facility," Henderson said.

Henderson said while the construction may be complete, the office won't go into operation until it's cleared by Customs officials from Washington, D.C. They're scheduled to visit Dec. 1 and make an assessment on when it will become operational.

"I wish I could give you guys a firm date but once it's handed over to Customs, it's in the hands of the federal government," Henderson said.

- Source:

No comments:

Post a Comment