To complement earlier announcements that Winair will lease an ATR-72 aircraft to extend its range and offer new routes, the airline also revealed on Facebook and in The Daily Herald that it would be servicing the Dominican Republic and Tortola soon with hints that more routes would be announced soon. Winair announced recently that the airline was doing better financially since being restructured and apparently is eager to regain the footing in the Caribbean it lost when it almost went belly-up. However, the airline is confident that its schedule and pricing for these new routes will be attractive and competitive.
“A flight on the ATR to Santo Domingo will only take 15 minutes longer than a jet aircraft, but the cost is much less; hence, our competitive ticket prices which will be revealed in time to come,” the airline tells its followers on Facebook. As expected, servicing Santo Domingo prompted immediate questions about a St. Maarten-Puerto Rico route, which JetBlue now services exclusively. Jet- Blue installed a second daily flight on the route recently that is very popular among local travellers. Winair has made no indications about a possible Puerto Rico route and did not expound on possible flights to the Southern Caribbean as some of its followers on Facebook also suggested. However, The Daily Herald understands that Puerto Rico is definitely in the picture.
The ATR-72 is a twinengine turboprop shorthaul regional airliner built by the French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR. A stretched variant of the ATR-42, the aircraft seats up to 78 passengers in a single-class configuration and is operated by a twopilot crew. The ATR-72 was developed from the ATR-42 to increase the seating capacity from 48 to 78 by stretching the fuselage by 4.5 metres (15 feet), increasing the wingspan, adding more powerful engines and increasing fuel capacity by approximately 10 per cent. More than 400 ATR-72s have been delivered worldwide.
Winair has started accepting applications for flight attendants to service the ATR. As for the pilots, although management has not made any official announcement, when smaller airlines take on bigger aircraft, the arrangement is usually what is called a “wet-lease arrangement” whereby pilots certified for the larger aircraft come along with the aircraft, typically in the initial stages of the new operation.
Winair’s pilots currently fly Twin Otter aircraft and will have to be retrained (type rating) to be certified to fly ATR-72s. It is also unclear how many of these aircraft the company intends to lease. Management said it would announce details of the new routes and the aircraft soon.