The Sky is the Limit
- May 31st, 2011
- in Yachting
The Sky is the Limit
How a local airliner strives to bring it all together
BVI Airways CEO Luke Smith blew out the candle on a slice of cheesecake, served chilled, from a seat overlooking the breathtaking views of Pagua Bay, Dominica. He’d celebrate the one-year birthday of his company alone at the Pagua Bay Restaurant, almost too busy to stop and thoroughly admire the view—and the budding company’s accomplishments.
A year earlier, the established pilot and business co-founder would launch the first BVI-based company to take roots with regularly scheduled flights from the Terrance B. Lettsome Airport. A bold move from outside appearance, at the time the American pilot said the BVI provided the ideal grounds to hatch his ambitious plans. A year later, with a new plane added to the fleet and more proposed destinations, Luke said his vision hasn’t changed, and his view of the BVI as an ideal target market hasn’t swayed.
“My vision is a little more focused now than it was a year ago,” he said, sitting in the Beef Island terminal, taking a quick break between scheduled flights from St Maarten and Dominica. “I’m looking at the world from a different perspective now.”
That perspective, he explained, allows him to view the Caribbean region as a paradise playground full of opportunity. “We had a very good year—the first year—and the first year is the most important for any airway,” he explained, continuing with a chuckle. “You could even say we doubled our fleet from one to two. … And in reality, that really does represent a great increase in growth over the year.”
Indeed, their expanding reach around the Caribbean could attest for the success of the company. Initially, BVI Airways took off to St Maarten, offering rates as low as $99 for a round trip ticket. It wouldn’t be long before word would catch on in the BVI that flights to the popular French/Dutch island were at an all-time low, hinting to the possibility of regional relationships to come. Now, the airline also offers regular flights to Dominica and Antigua, and is breaking into other regional markets, including the Dominican Republic, Anguilla and St Kitts.
Asked what the future holds for the company, the CEO responded optimistically. “We’re looking to improve our branding and our accessibility from the rest of the world to here,” he said. “The local market knows us now—they trust us and know what we’re capable of. But what we’re looking to do now is increase access from the rest of the world to the BVI.”
Luke remains busy as a captain and CEO for the young and budding company, but he also keeps his cool, trusting where his company is headed. Next year, he said, with more pilots and more available resources, he hopes to occasionally coast on cruise control and enjoy the view.
“Next year, I see the cake with two candles—more destinations, more airplanes and our well-developed brand,” he predicted. “We’ll be bigger and stronger—a very attractive airline—and I’ll hopefully have more time to enjoy it.”