Silver Airways has big plans for its Caribbean flight network. The carrier intends to increase capacity from its San Juan hub to destinations across the region as it shifts its Saab 340 fleet out of the islands, replacing them with larger ATR turboprops. The ATR-72 will more double the available seats in some markets from 34 to 70 per flight.
From its hub at San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín Airport (SJU) Silver Airways operates flights to:
- St Kitts
- St Maarten
- St Thomas
- St Croix
- Santiago, DR
All of these routes are expected to see the new ATR aircraft providing service later this year, according to the filings, though the currently filed schedules tell a slightly different tale.
Silver Airways currently holds permission to operate the routes with the smaller Saab aircraft as well as to serve the Bahamas with the larger ATR. Owing to nuance in the DOT regulations, however, the carrier must receive permission to operate the larger aircraft on these international routes.
Based on currently published schedules the ATR-72 will begin its Caribbean operations for Silver Airways on 3 March 2020, with a single frame running a few daily flights from the San Juan base. It will be joined by an ATR-42 on 5 April 2020. The ATR fleet will grow while the Saabs are drawn down, with the SF340 disappearing from Silver’s San Juan schedule on 6 July 2020.
Generally speaking, St. Croix and St. Thomas (US destinations) are showing the ATR-72 on the schedules while the other types have the ATR-42 listed today. Based on the DOT filings, however, it appears that Silver wants the flexibility to swap aircraft in as needed.
It is also possible that the ATR-42 on the schedule is a place-holder pending DOT approval for the larger aircraft to operate the routes. The carrier only has a few –72s in the fleet and currently operates them mostly within Florida. And the –42s can operate the international routes without additional approval given their size.
The new ATR-600 series features a wide cabin and lightweight slim seats offering passengers up to 32-inch pitch, more legroom than many mainline aircraft. In addition, Silver’s ATR fleet offers spacious full-size overhead bins for carry-on bags along with full-size lavatories, bright LED lighting in the cabins and a claims quieter ride than regional jets.
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