Monday evening, The St. Augustine and St. Johns County Airport Authority voted unanimously to approve operating agreements with two scheduled air charter operators, Casino Direct Air (a division of Myrtle Beach Direct Air) and Craig Air Center Charter.
Casino Direct Air says they will offer a popular one-price gaming package out of St. Augustine to Gulfport MS; complete with transfers to and from and stays at the most popular hotels.
Casino Direct Air would like to begin service 3 times a week; starting as soon as June 20th. Their target customer is within a two hour drive range.
They will enjoy an operating contract with the St. Augustine Airport that is similar to Skybus. Collection of revenue may differ, initially, in that most of the airport’s take will be from parking fees generated by the passengers expected to be using the service.
In long range plans, the representatives of Casino Direct Air have not ruled out picking up the successful Columbus, OH to St. Augustine route, in a non-gaming charter segment. Casino Direct Air already serves the Columbus, OH market successfully.
Casino Direct Air expects to be operating aircraft similar to Skybus’ Airbus A319 or A320’s; with seating at around 130 passengers.
The potential for future additional revenues from Direct Air Charter are still being discussed. With zero investment from the St. Augustine Airport, this venture should prove to be a win/win for everyone….even bringing in passengers from a large surrounding drive market, with many of them opting to stay over an additional night or more here in St. Augustine to complete their vacation plans.
The second air charter operator is Craig Air Center, which will begin service to Marsh Harbour, Abacos, Bahamas. Marsh Harbour is a favorite destination in the Abacos, Bahamas.
Many of our residents will recognize the Abacos from their successful cultural exchange with St. Augustine in the recent (and upcoming) Junkanoo Festival here. Craig Air Center Charter will begin offering service to Marsh Harbour three to four times a week initially, beginning as early as June 7th.
Craig Air Center Charter is currently exploring opportunities to serve other cities out of St. Augustine, as well. Could Southwest Florida and/or Key West be in the running?
Craig Air Charter will be operating a smaller aircraft with seating for 19 passengers for initial service to Marsh Harbour.
There is still interest from several ‘scheduled commercial’ airlines and the St. Augustine Airport now has the room to accommodate them along with these two new approved services. Communication is ongoing in that regard, and Historic City News and Media will bring you updates as they occur.