Curacao’s Jetair Caribbean Passengers Stranded After Entire Fleet Grounded

Curacao’s Jetair Caribbean is facing mounting pressure after its sole operational aircraft was forced into maintenance, leaving customers stranded across the Caribbean and South America.

Jetair Caribbean started operations out of Curacao in 2019, flying to a number of Caribbean countries including Aruba, Bonaire, Jamaica and Sint Maarten, and as well as serving two South American countries, that being Colombia and Suriname.

The airline operates two Fokker 70 jets, each of which seats 80 passengers. However with both aircraft being more than 27 years old, maintenance issues have started to put a toll on the airline.

PJ-JAC has since been retired, operating its last flight on August 27, 2023. Since then, the airline has relied solely on PJ-JAB to fulfill its operations. Unfortunately an engine issue forced the aircraft out of service, with the last commercial flight taking place on May 17, 2024.

The airline put out a press release stating that all flights from May 19 through 24 will be cancelled as a result of technical issues with its aircraft.

Cannibalization kinda

Credit: Notisia ING/Facebook

With PJ-JAC in storage, the airline had decided to borrow one of the engines from that aircraft to replace the non-functioning unit on PJ-JAB. However the airline estimated that the process could take a few days, and opted to cancel flights until May 24th.

It is reported that some stranded travelers are being provided accommodation at hotels, with breakfast, lunch and dinner also being covered.

Newer aircraft needed

Operating older aircraft can be a good starting point for new airlines as they require way less startup investment versus buying or leasing newer airplanes, but it also comes at the risk of running into more maintenance issues. Just ask failed carriers Insel Air and Barbados’ REDjet.

In September 2023, Jetair announced that it was in the process of selecting a new aircraft type to replace its aging Fokkers. It was later reported by ch-aviation, that the airline was interested in acquiring ATR 42s. There haven’t been any major updates since.

Based on Jetair’s operational needs, they would require at least three or four in their fleet given that the ATR 42 can only accommodate 48 passengers versus 80 on the F70.

Currently only a handful of operators still fly the F70s. At the time of publication, Australia’s Alliance Airlines was the largest with 11 in its fleet. Curacao’s regional neighbor Fly All Ways has three in its fleet, even though one has been in storage since March 2020.

Featured image: Jetair Caribbean/Facebook

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