Bizarre: New Caribbean Airline Acquires 747 To Launch Flights To Dubai

Filed Under: Other Airlines

I’m happy to announce that I’ve now officially seen it all.

The Caribbean is a region with a lot of potential when it comes to new airlines. For example, Richard Branson wants to invest in LIAT, and rebrand it using the typical “Virgin” name.

There’s another Caribbean startup, based in St. Vincent. Some investors have gotten together and have acquired one plane in order to launch one route. Fair enough.

When I first saw that I assumed that maybe they acquired an ATR 72 to fly to Barbados. Nope, guess again.

Investors in St. Vincent have acquired a 747-400, and plan to use it to launch nonstop flights between St. Vincent and Dubai. I’m not kidding (though maybe they are?).

St. Vincent’s News784 reports:

“St Vincent and the Grenadines would have its own 747 indigenous based airlines in the not too distant future, a group of Vincentian pilots and business people want to start a small locally base 747 service, it would link St Vincent from different airports, to which my government is going to give full support.”

Then the story goes on to talk about how the plane will operate flights to & from Dubai. Nothing quite says “small locally based” airline like a 747 flying to Dubai!

Just in case you assume this whole thing is made up, here’s a video of the plane landing at Argyle International Airport several days ago:

For anyone wondering, the 747-400 in question has the registration code N508BB. It’s a 21 year old 747 that flew for China Airlines until October 2017, when it was stored. On May 23 the plane was flown from Victorville to Phoenix, and then on May 24 it was flown from Phoenix to St. Vincent.

The plane hasn’t flown since then, but apparently the airport has given space for a hangar to be built for the plane.

This might just be the strangest airline startup since Baltia. In the highly unlikely event this happens, you can bet I’ll be on the inaugural flight.

Bottom line

Even if some details in this St. Vincent news story aren’t accurate, the fact remains that a 747-400 has been acquired, and it does seem like they’re going to base it in St. Vincent. I question if the information about Dubai is accurate.

While I bet they got the plane for next to nothing, I have no clue what on earth they’re hoping to do with a 747-400. While Dubai seems crazy, so does basically any other destination with this type of plane.

I’ll be tracking this one closely.

Can anyone make sense of what’s going on here?

Comments

  1. Not so strange…..firms based in Dubai sell a lot of citizenship packages for St Vincent….a direct flight will give prospective investors a chance to view before buying their passports…

  2. Cool! This provides conceptual support for my business plan to connect Chiclayo Airport, Peru, to Girua Airport in Popondetta, New Guinea with regular nonstop service using a retired B-2 Stealth Bomber. If you aren’t one of the initial investors, you’re missing out on the deal of the century!

  3. On 24 May 2019, A Boeing 747-400 airplane test flight operated by One Caribbean,[74] landed at the Argyle International Airport from Phoenix–Sky Harbor in Arizona. According to information, the aircraft would be operating chartered flights out of St Vincent and the Grenadines to Dubai–International in the Middle East via London–Heathrow and other ad-hoc chartered flights to any point in the United States from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and other OECS countries. To date, this Boeing 747-400 is the largest airplane to land at Argyle International Airport.[75]

  4. Anyone wanna finance my business of flying from Jacksonville, Florida to Singapore! I’m buying an A380 for it and I’m sure the fastest growing city in the U.S. would have enough demand for it! I mean, if St. Vincent can go to Dubai, then surely JAX to SIN will work great!

  5. Small Caribbean airline plans to launch flights to DXB
    Next up: EK to launch daily A380 to SVD

  6. Geez. If I wanted to base an airline in the Caribbeans I’d have preferred the Bahamas or Bermuda. Sands Corp private jets from the 747SP to the A340-500 are based there

  7. @ben @luck you haven’t seen it all yet. What happens when rewards programs start REvaluing and Bora Bora and Maldives hotels become all inclusive? Egg shall be upon your face.

  8. Further to one comment , Mr Branson should give up trying to set up airlines

    Virgin Atlantic – now mostly owned by delta klm and Air France
    Virgin express – ceased operations in 2006
    Virgin America – taken over by Alaska
    Virgin Nigeria – closed in 2012
    Virgin Australia -8.7%

  9. @Icarus on the contrary – he clearly sets up successful airlines (except perhaps Virgin Nigeria, but there were other factors involved there) and then sells them or parts of them to other companies, making lots of money in the process. I’m pretty sure what he’s doing is actually going very well for him…

  10. Aren’t they big in selling citizenship to rich arabs/chinese? Could be a way to fly them in with style, since e.g. a way to “qualify” for citizenship is to buy ridiculously overpriced “property” on the isles…

  11. @Icarus Virgin Nigeria was sold because of disputes with the Nigerian government. Then closed because of corruption.

  12. At least the airline has a working 747.

    Many out there only have a fleet Photoshop planes.

  13. There is a history here: the country essentially bankruptcy itself by building a large new international airport a few years back. The government expected many more new flights than they actually got. No surprise they are doubling down.

  14. I’d think that if there was a market for this route, Emirates would already be flying it.

    I’m impressed that they actually have an airplane, though. Puts them ahead of Family Air and Baltia (well, Baltia had a plane for a while, it just never moved.)

  15. Wed May 22 around 5 PM, JFK, arriving by road from Manhattan, I believe that this plane went by me, taxiing on the overpass near Terminal 1. I looked at this all white 747 and then, out of curiosity, at its registration. I am almost sure it was this one although I may be wrong but the BB struck me as something I had no idea about

    t

  16. I am sure this is all about promoting tourism to the Grenadines, as the previous airport (Arnos Vale) handled only prop jets. Notably, this larger airport was built with Cuban assistance. St. Vincent doesn’t really have any notable beaches to speak of, save the one on Young Island. The real draw is the Grenadines, which is a sailing haven and famous for getaways for the rich and famous (ie. Mustique). Perhaps this is the Dubai connection.

  17. @ Charles: St. Vincent and the Grenadines does not have a Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).

    The operators of the airline will, I’m sure, soon outline plans. Until such time, everyone is merely speculating.

  18. The said aircraft is on lease , it was not acquired or bought as you suggest… they would be stupid to buy considering the amount of aircraft available fir lease..They are building a hangar but not the size needed for a 747… lol..!!

  19. I bet Emirates is positioning right now with emergency board meetings on how to compete on this route. Meanwhile, Delta, United, and American are accusing Emirates of backing this venture so as to encroach on their territory using full page ads in the Wall Street Journal.

    If this actually launches I will have seen it all. And anyone here who flies it will be ace in my book.

  20. Incidentally SVG is the only OECS country without an official citizenship by investment program.
    Someone probably paid them to take that dinosaur cheaper than the storage fees

  21. As one of the very, very few B747 pilots (now retired) in the Eastern Caribbean I will be following this development with interest.
    If they decide that they want to fly non-stop to DXB I want to be at Argyle to watch that take off. It would be really “interesting”.
    If they were foolish enough to register the aircraft in SVD it would mean maintaining it to ECCAA requirements. In that case the hangar would have to be big enough to fit a B747.
    I assume that the aircraft landed with no significant payload (pax or Frt) and with a safe amount of fuel. Carefully observe in the video that he is well below the recommended height for crossing the start of the runway and with the downslope used a significant amount of the runway, evidence by the length of time the thrust reversers remained deployed.
    The B747 is still the “Queen of the Skies”. The most beautiful awe inspiring passenger aircraft ever built. A delight to fly.
    I wish the operation all the very best.

  22. The DXB destination is just a dummy answer to get financing. The company will probably fly wet lease to Norwegian, BA, or whoever needs temporary lift.

  23. Every time I think I’ve seen it all, I imagine Akbar al Baker saying “Hold my Beer” and he seems to never disappoint…. so while a 747 flying from St Vincent’s to Dubai sounds outlandish, we just might see something moreso come out of Qatar.

  24. Given the surplus of 747-400s, it doesn’t surprise me at all that folks will exploit this resource. The operating cost may not be the lowest, but I bet the lease cost is small making it a good bet on an unserved long route. We shall see.

  25. Buyer possession play (Prof of trade) for a triple dip lease write off arrangement including a change of place of taxation. 10m worth of aircraft creates 9m worth of write-offs.

  26. You can “buy” citizenship there for just agreeing to invest a certain amount of money on the island. It’s almost 100% likely that’s what this is and this airline will never really fly.

  27. Ben,

    Whats the name of that airline? I would also fly it on that route. I live in the UAE and it was a hassle for us to get to Puerto Rico for our cruise last autumn. Would love a direct flight.

  28. Fully loaded, this plane could carry ~$11 billion in palletized $100 bills. Or in the alternative about $20 billion in cocaine on the eastbound flight.

  29. I arrived in SVD last night. Argyle has two air bridges (unsure why when the much bigger BGI manages with zero). Sitting on the apron, right between the two airbridges is the 747-400! Pax arriving on LIAT flights are required to walk a good distance on the tarmac to international arrivals, passing right by the parked 747. A truly awesome sight (in the UK English sense!)

  30. Until the citizens start embracing the students and tourists as a chance for growth, I cannot necessarily see the purpose of adding new routes. I constantly feel like an open target for sexual harassment or begging (then cussing when the answer is no). Given that the glitches on the Miami flight have not been worked out (oversold every time, not receiving a second customs form EVERY TIME then being told a second one is required), the absolutely painfully slow arrival process, and the announcements that NEVER STOP on departure- may be smarter to work on existing routes (and eh, customer relations).

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