TODAY - The Newspaper for Country St. Maarten
Published On: Wed, Oct 18th, 2017

Curacao-based Divi Divi Air adds Twin Otter to its fleet

Divi Divi Air Twin Otter arrival

HATO — Curacao-based commuter airline, Divi Divi Air, has expanded its fleet with a 19-seater De Haviland DHC 6-300 ‘Twin Otter’ twin-engine aircraft. This is the first of two Twin Otters scheduled to arrive on Curacao. The Twin Otter flying under Canadian registration, C-GLAI, landed on Curacao on Monday, October 16th, 2017, at exactly 4:27pm. The second aircraft is expected by arrive by the end of October or the beginning of November, according to the owner and accountable manager, Germaine Richie-Durand.

In a telephone interview with Today.sx, the company managing director, Richie-Durand, explained that the Twin Otter is currently under Canadian registration, but she hopes to have the aircraft under Papa-Juliet (PJ) registration as soon as the airworthy inspection and certification process by the Curacao aviation authorities are completed.

Presently, the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) in Curacao is plagued by a shortage in manpower. The authorities were supposed to get assistance from the St. Maarten civil aviation authority (SCAA) as the SCAA has a lot of experience certifying Twin Otter aircrafts due to the St. Maarten-based Winair operating only Twin Otters in its fleet. However, with the passing of hurricane Irma, the plan to get assistance from St. Maarten is not possible at the moment.

Richie-Durand said that because the aircraft has already been certified by a Category 1 civil aviation authority in Canada using experts from that country, all manuals and maintenance requirements are up-to-date and therefore authorities in Curacao shouldn’t have any problems certifying the aircraft.

Once the aircraft is certified and the registration process completed, it will be immediately put into commercial operations on the Curacao-Bonaire and Curacao-Aruba routes. Due to market demand for public transportation on the Bonaire-Aruba route, Divi Divi Air plans to utilize the Twin Otter to provide airlift to its customers in Bonaire on the Bonaire-Aruba route as well.

The ABC islands, which have been plagued with problems with its air transportation service due to the demise of Tiara Air and Insel Air Aruba and the financial problems of the Curacao-based Inselair, will now have an improved airlift capacity with this 19-seater De Haviland DHC 6-300 series Twin Otter aircraft Divi Divi Air has added to its fleet. The 300-series can carry a full load of 19 passengers plus baggage and cargo.

Richie-Durand explained that especially the reservations, ground handling and maintenance departments have seen a 75% increase in its staffing and the company now has 23 employees working in these departments in order to accommodate the additional workload the Twin Otters will bring to the company in Curacao. In Bonaire, the airline company has 5 employees, bring the total to 28 people employed within the company.

Three months ahead of the expected arrivals, pilots and maintenance crews received the necessary maintenance and flight safety trainings. “We are happy with the warm welcome we received on Monday and we look forward to continue providing the good service our repeat customers appreciate and we also look forward to servicing the Aruba route with our new scheduled service.” concludes Germain Richie-Durand.

Divi Divi Air Twin Otter parked

According to Wikipedia, the Twin Otter was and is used by dozens of airlines and militaries around the world, and was produced in three main series (100, 200, 300) until 1988. As of 2006, over 40 years after design and manufacturing work on the original DHC-6 began, more than 500 of this aircraft were still flying. In that year Viking Air purchased the type certificate for the DHC-6 and announced its intention to offer a new build Series 400 Twin Otter.

Currently, our local operator, Winair, has three (3) Twin Otters in its fleet. At the height of its Twin Otter operation, the company had seven (7) Twin Otters in its fleet. Pre-hurricane Irma, Winair was operating five (5) Twin Otters. With only three Twin Otters presently in its fleet, Winair is operating a limited schedule to Saba, St. Eustatius, Nevis and St. Barths. Customers can book flights with Winair via the www.winair.nl website.

Customers wishing to book flights with Divi Divi Air between the islands of Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba, can submit a reservation request online at Lets-Travel.com. Divi Divi Air operates six (6) flights daily between Curacao and Bonaire from Mondays to Thursdays; seven (7) flights on Fridays and five (5) flights in the weekends on Saturdays and Sundays. Divi Divi Air caters mainly to daily commuters traveling on business between Curacao and Bonaire and has a very loyal base of customers.

Divi Divi Air Twin Otter take off

Interview with Divi Divi Air CEO Germaine Richie-Durand…

A nice video for the aircraft spotters…