Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Silver Airways plots new growth strategy with $1.1 billion aircraft order

Regional airline Silver Airways of Fort Lauderdale, which focuses on Florida and the Bahamas, is looking to expand into the Caribbean and southeastern U.S. with a new fleet of planes at a cost of $1 billion.

On Tuesday, the company announced it had signed a letter of intent to upgrade and expand its fleet with up to 50 new French-made aircraft that can carry 46 passengers each.

The new ATR-600 would replace the company’s existing fleet of 34-passenger Saab 340B turboprop aircraft over the next few years, Silver said in a news release. The airline currently operates an average of 125 daily flights to 10 Florida cities and eight destinations in the Bahamas, the majority from hubs in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa.

Jason Bewley, Silver’s chief financial officer and its newly-appointed president, called the move a “monumental leap forward.”

The new planes will enable Silver to expand its network “with greater reach, including further into the Caribbean and the Southeastern United States,” Bewley said.

For travelers, the new planes would mean an upgraded flying experience and reliability. Silver’s new planes would feature wide cabins with slim lightweight seats, spacious overhead bins and full-size lavatories.

Additionally, Silver said it is exploring talks with San Juan, PR.-based Seaborne Airlines for a “potential commercial cooperation” to further its long-term goal of becoming a major U.S. carrier.

Seaborne’s majority owner is private equity firm Versa Capital Management of Philadelphia. Last September, a Versa affiliate acquired a majority stake in Silver.

The injection of capital from Versa was expected to help fuel Silver’s recent expansion into Cuba and to other potential new markets. In April, however, Silver ended its fledgling Cuba operations due to lack of demand and overcapacity in the market.

On Tuesday, Silver also named aviation industry veteran and attorney Steve Rossum as its new CEO effective Aug. 7. He’ll take over from Sami Teittinen, Silver’s former president and CEO who is leaving the carrier for personal reasons. Rossum was Silver’s external general counsel and fleet transactions advisor.

“My new colleagues and I are fully focused on safety, reliability, growth and working toward fulfilling Silver’s promising future,” Rossum said.

Story and video ► http://www.sun-sentinel.com

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