Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp, Lt. Gov. Obsert E. Potter, and members of the Virgin Islands Port Authority and the Department of Tourism welcomed the inaugural Spirit Airlines flight from Orlando to St. Thomas on its touchdown on Thursday, according to a press release from the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Spirit flight 284, with a full flight of 145 passengers, landed at Cyril E. King International Airport shortly before 3 p.m. to a traditional water cannon salute. The Airbus 319 was greeted with a Carnival-themed welcome, Cruzan rum samples for passengers and warm Virgin Islands hospitality. Four travel bloggers and social media influencers arrived on the flight and will spend a few days on the island experiencing the attractions on St. Thomas and will take a day trip to St. John.
Spirit Airlines will operate three flights a week between Orlando and St. Thomas, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The service adds to the present daily flights between Fort Lauderdale and St. Thomas.
Thanking the airline for strengthening “aerial highways” to the Virgin Islands, Mapp, Potter and Assistant Commissioner of Tourism Joyce Dore-Griffin highlighted the importance of the Central Florida market to the destination, both for traditional leisure tourism and VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) travelers.
The governor welcomed Spirit’s team and its passengers to St. Thomas and thanked the Department of Tourism for its continuing efforts to boost the economic development of the islands by attracting increased airlift to the territory. “Our partnership with Spirit Airlines continues to grow and expand for the benefit of the people of the Virgin Islands and the benefit of Spirit Airlines’ employees and shareholders, and we look forward to strengthening our relationship in the future,” he said.
In turn, Stephen Schuler, Spirit’s Director of Communications, described the airline’s happiness at working with the V.I. tourism team. “As an airline we love working with really good groups, and this is the best in the industry, the best in the world,” said Schuler, adding that the airline is in the business of connecting family and friends and providing more low-cost options for people to travel.
Before take-off in Orlando, passengers were greeted by Tourism representatives, steel pan music, carnival dancers and a celebratory cake to commemorate the opening of this important gateway to St. Thomas.
Spirit also serves the island of St. Croix with three weekly flights from Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport to Henry E. Rohlsen Airport.