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Delta spearheads lower Carib air fares

Although no “price war” is anticipated between the legacy carriers that service St. Maarten from New York City, the addition of Delta Air Lines to this route could result in lower air fares for travelers.

This was the opinion expressed by SXM Airport’s Manager of Special Projects Robert Brown, as he joined others in a St. Maarten delegation to welcome Delta’s inaugural flight DL 331 from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) on Saturday, Dec 15, 2012.

Brown said, “historically the JFK-SXM route has been a proven market and SXM Airport, in acquiring this route from Delta, shows that the team has been working diligently to expand markets.”

He added that with an additional player in the market, fares on this route are likely to decrease.

Regular fares on the legacy carriers that service St. Maarten directly from New York vary according to the season and the day of the week passengers seek to travel but could vary between US$900 and over US$1,300 round trip per passenger in the economy class.

Delta’s maiden flight from JFK landed here at exactly 1:30 pm “baptized” with the traditional water cannon salute for the Boeing 757-200 aircraft, which brought 140 passengers onboard who arrived to the sound of steel pan playing popular Christmas songs.

Brown, who was accompanied by Audrey Jack of the Marketing and Communications Department of SXM Airport, presented Captain Bob Reynolds and First Officer Herb Ludwig with a commemorative plaque. The two Delta Air Lines pilots were visiting the island for the first time and expressed the hope that the service would continue indefinitely.

“Getting this flight here has been in the process for three years,” said Brown, who vowed that, “SXM Airport will do everything in its power to keep the flight operating.”

Also on hand to welcome the new Delta Air Lines flight was Edward Dest, Marketing Director at the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau. He presented the crew with gift bags from the bureau and told the crew, “St. Maarten is happy to have them here.” The Delta crew proudly showed off their St. Maarten T-shirts and memorabilia at a brief reception with SXM Airport and Tourist Bureau officials.

“This inaugural flight shows that the airlines have confidence in the destination,” Dest said, adding that he “hopes it will eventually become a daily flight.”

Confirming that the new flight has been “a few years in the making,” Delta’s Station Manager in St. Maarten, Charlene van der Linde, stressed that the JFK-SXM service is in addition to the existing Monday, Wednesday, and Friday flights of the airline from Atlanta. The new route, she said, offers customers more choice for travel.

“The flights from the other carriers are all spread out during the day so customers wanting to go to New York can have an additional late afternoon flight option on Saturdays,” she noted.

Delta introduced the new and expanded service due to an increased demand for more connections between New York and tourist destinations in the Caribbean including Aruba, Bermuda, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

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