Silver Airways has big plans for growth in and beyond Tampa
Justine Griffin, Times Staff Writer
Monday, May 30, 2016 6:00am
Silver Airways became the only air carrier to offer nonstop flights from
Tampa to Nassau last week.
And they're just getting started.
Silver Airways CEO Sami Teittinen said the Fort Lauderdale-based
discount airliner is pushing forward on major expansion plans over the
next year. The airliner, which considers Tampa one of its main hubs,
wants to be a regular airline option in Cuba. The company wants to
expand beyond Florida and the Bahamas and be a top contender for quick
flights in the Southeast.
Right now Silver Airways operates more routes in Florida and between the
Sunshine State and the Bahamas than any other airline. The company
offers more than 120 daily flights to 26 destinations on a fleet of 22
Saab 340B Plus turboprop aircraft that seat 34.
Silver Airways was born from the ashes of Gulfstream International
Airlines, a small South Florida company that filed for Chapter 11
bankruptcy protection in 2010. The company was bought by a hedge fund
and rebranded as Silver the next year.
Teittinen was in Tampa on Thursday to celebrate the new daily flight to
Nassau from Tampa International Airport, where he spoke with the Times.
Why did Silver Airways want to offer nonstop service to Nassau from Tampa?
We focus on providing safe air travel at affordable fares. We looked at
Tampa and saw that there were a lot of destinations that just weren't
being served today. Nassau was one of them. Well, we used to service
Nassau from Tampa when we were still Gulfstream International Airlines,
but it's been a while since then and we wanted to bring that service back.
We already serve seven different destinations in the Bahamas so this
seemed like a natural extension. No one wants to have to connect in
Miami or Fort Lauderdale if you don't have to.
Silver Airways has been vying to be one of the airlines that will offer
flights to Cuba. Can you tell me more about that?
Our growth plan is going in two directions. The first is to offer
flights to 10 different destinations in Cuba. It is a lot but there are
10 international airports in Cuba. As the market is opening, the plan is
to be there. Right now we're waiting to see if our plans will be accepted.
So what's the other direction for growth?
We want to serve more destinations in the southern Caribbean and more
states surrounding Florida. You'll start to hear more announcements
about that in the next 12 to 18 months. That includes newer aircraft, too.
How does Tampa International Airport compare to other parts of Florida,
like Fort Lauderdale, where you're based?
Tampa and Fort Lauderdale are our key hubs. It's easy for us to serve
more traffic in Tampa for that reason. It's a very convenient airport
and we're very excited to be here during its expansion. It will be very
nice. The airport has been very supportive of our growth plans, too.
Everything in Tampa has been very easy.
When we first started looking at Tampa, we noticed that there are
opportunities to offer flights that are not being served today. That's
mostly because of airline consolidation over the years. Orlando, too, is
experiencing that. But it's great for us.
Tell me more about Silver Airways, for our readers who might not be
familiar with your name.
We're a full-service airline known for providing ultrashort flights. The
average flight time is an hour and 10 minutes, though most of our
flights are really an hour or less. We fly 34-seat aircraft today but
plan to expand that. We're known for our fair price point and nonstop
service. We have arrangements with United Airlines and JetBlue, so
travelers are able to accumulate points for those programs when they fly
with us. We don't offer our own loyalty program. We offer nonstop
service almost everywhere in Florida and the Bahamas, and soon beyond that.
Reach Justine Griffin at email@example.com. Follow @SunBizGriffin
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