Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Albert Whitted Airport (KSPG) to get seaplane charter service to Fort Lauderdale

Tropic Ocean Airways, a private seaplane company, will bring commercial service back to Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg, according to the company's website.

The South Florida-based airline's website lists flights available to and from Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg and Fort Lauderdale International Airport. The company's CEO, Rob Ceravolo, will be at the airport in St. Pete Thursday to make an announcement with officials from the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Rick Kriseman.

Tropic Ocean Airways has a fleet of seaplanes and private jets that land in tropical destinations usually only accessible by boat or helicopter. The company offers private charter services to Florida coastal destinations, the Keys and the Bahamas.

Ceravolo, a former Navy Top Gun fighter pilot, founded the company in 2009. In addition to private charter flights, Tropic Ocean offers cargo and freight services and yacht charter services.

Tropic Ocean operates out of a Sheltair, a private terminal in Fort Lauderdale International Airport and the Miami Seaplane Base, a cruise ship port channel. The company says that passengers don't have to wait in long security and customs lines when they fly on their chartered planes. They offer free parking at the terminal in Fort Lauderdale, too.

There are four planes in the company's fleet, according to the Tropic Ocean website; three are seaplanes and one is a private jet that seats nine travelers.

It is unclear at this time when service will begin, but the company's website cites flights from St. Pete to Fort Lauderdale next April priced at $249 each way.

The Tropic Ocean service comes just a few days after Raven Air, another private charter company based in Marco Island, announced it would offer direct flights to the Florida Keys from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

Albert Whitted is credited as being the birthplace of commercial air service, with National Airlines (which eventually merged with Pan-Am,) offering service there beginning in 1934.


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