American Eagle says final goodbye to the VI
- Makes last flight out of VI after more than 25 years of service
April 1st, 2013
American Eagle receives a water salute before making its final departure from the Virgin Islands. Photo: VINO
Niche Marketing Manager of the BVI Tourist Board, Lynette L. Harrigan (left) offers a token of appreciation to Captain Ronan Poinson (centre) and First Officer Stephen Neumann upon the occasion of American Eagle's final flight out of the Virgin Islands. Photo: VINO
Crew members and staff of American Eagle pose for a photo opportunity. Photo: VINO
Passengers board the American Eagle aeroplane for it's final flight out of the Virgin Islands last evening March 31, 2013. Photo: VINO
BEEF ISLAND, VI
American Eagle staged its last flight out of the Virgin Islands last evening, March 31, 2013 after servicing the Territory for more than twenty five years.
Captain Ronan Poinson and First Officer Stephen Neumann manned the last flight out with a two-member crew. There were 66 passengers on the last flight in.
Captain Poinson, a self-described surfer and 13-year veteran pilot, said he came often to visit the Territory and each time he came, the people were very nice. “The people at the hotels, the taxi drivers… just the ambience when I came here during my days off, so I’m kind of sad that we’re leaving,” he said.
The flight arrived a little later than expected but eventually made the trip to the Territory around 9 P.M. before departing an hour later.
“Me and the co-pilot… we insisted to get an airplane to come here to do it one last time,” said Captain Poinson after expressing fears that there may have been no flight owing to what he termed a shortage of airplanes.
According to the Captain, some airplanes were taken back to the United States, reducing a fleet of 30 airplanes to 4. One of the planes also got stuck in Martinique earlier that morning as well.
He added, “I brought many people that love sailing here… it’s one of the places where you can be on a boat and you can go from one island to another one.” He felt the Territory was a big destination for people that love sailing with the tradewinds being very good most of the year.
Both the Captain and First Officer expressed sadness at the last flight for American Eagle while several workers at the local American Eagle office were seen crying. The flight was also given a water salute by two fire tenders before it departed.
Marketing Manager of the BVI Tourist Board, Ms Lynette Harrigan, agreed that it was a sad occasion as the airline parted company with the Territory. “It is sad to see them fly out of here today,” she said, “you could see the emotion coming from not only the staff, but also the pilot, the flight attendants, everybody crying and hugging each other.”
Harrigan suggested that this was not the end, however, and stated that the Virgin Islands was one of the airline’s most profitable destinations and expressed hope that they would continue to work with the Territory with a promise of better things to come.
She was proud that Seaborne Airlines had ‘stepped up to the plate’ and stated that this would now mean that American Eagle’s departure does not leave a void. “With Seaborne coming in, they are going to even provide more seats than American Eagle did so I think we’re in good hands,” Harrigan said.
She disclosed that Cape Air has also added extra flights while Seaborne would be adding extra flights to places such as Virgin Gorda while its Saab will also be taking up some of the flights into Virgin Gorda as well.
Harrigan did not feel that the marketing efforts of the Tourist Board needed to be changed with the departure of American Eagle as she felt that the relationship with Seaborne Airlines and Cape Air was practically the same relationship shared with American Eagle.
She felt that numbers would increase for persons flying the route between Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands given the hard work that the Tourist Board had been doing with the airlines in place.
Harrigan disclosed that the reason for the airline’s pull out was as a result of a lease being up for its airplane and nothing to do with the destination or number of passengers coming to and from the destination.
Kerlene Bideau, one of the staff members that worked with American Eagle, said this flight meant the beginning of a new chapter for her. “After several years of American Eagle… it’s like a great loss for all of us here, we’ll just miss that airline.”
Bideau said she was now looking forward to working for Seaborne Airlines to provide the same level of service that she did with American Eagle for the past thirteen years.