By Mark Nensel, ATW
Fort Lauderdale-based regional carrier Silver Airways finalized its purchase of San Juan, Puerto Rico-based Seaborne Airlines April 23, creating a combined fleet of 31 aircraft serving Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. Financial details of the transaction were not released.
The consolidated airline will be headquartered in Fort Lauderdale. Silver Airlines CEO Steve Rossum will continue at the CEO helm for the combined company, while Seaborne CEO Ben Munson will leave to lead an aviation consulting firm. The combined workforce will total nearly 1,000 employees operating in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, San Juan and St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.
Silver Airways, from its Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa hubs, provides service between Florida and the Bahamas utilizing a fleet of 21 Saab 340 turboprops. The airline is implementing a fleet renewal program; Silver took delivery of its first 46-seat ATR 42-600s this month and is scheduled to take delivery of 19 additional ATR turboprops, a mix of 42-600s and 72-600s. The airline has purchase options for an additional 30 ATR-600 aircraft. The aircraft will be leased from Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC). Silver is the first US operator of -600 series turboprops.
Seaborne Airlines operates its own fleet of Saab 340s, as well as DHC-Twin Otter seaplanes, on a network serving San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Anguilla, Antigua, Dominica, Saint Maarten, St. Kitts, Tortola and Nevis.
The combined airline plans to operate the new fleet of ATR turboprops across both networks.
"Together we create one of the nation's leading independent airlines ... that will benefit our [customers], team members and the communities we serve, as well as both airlines' ... codeshare and interline partnerships with most major US carriers," Rossum said.
Silver is a codeshare partner with Bogota, Colombia-based Avianca, New York-based JetBlue Airways and Chicago-based United Airlines, and has interline agreements with Dallas/Fort Worth-based American Airlines, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Japan's All Nippon Airways, Bahamasair, Germany's Hahn Air and Azul Brazilian Airlines. Seaborne is a codeshare partner with American, Delta, JetBlue, and Vieques Airlink, and has interline agreements with United and Hahn Air.
Seaborne will continue to operate under its own operating certificate as a standalone subsidiary of Silver prior to the merger of the two companies' operations and branding, which is expected in the coming year.
Until the merger, Silver will continue to fly its routes to the Bahamas under the Silver Airways banner. Likewise, Seaborne will continue flying its own routes through the Caribbean under its own name.