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BVI Airways sold to New York-based merchant bank
Published on March 14, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

BVI Airways BAe-3201 Jetstream Super 31. Photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt/Wikimedia

BEEF ISLAND, BVI -- BVI Airways has closed on the sale of the airline to a New York-based merchant bank, a move that significantly bolsters the carrier’s capital base in advance of proposed fleet and route expansion throughout the Eastern Caribbean. Terms of the sale, including the identity of the new ownership group, were not disclosed.

Effective with the sale, longtime aviation industry executive, Jerry Willoughby, has been named president and CEO. He joins BVI Airways co-founder and chief operating officer (COO), Luke Smith, on the airline’s executive leadership team.

“We are extremely fortunate to source in one transaction the type of growth capital and executive-level aviation industry talent that can take BVI Airways to the forefront of Caribbean carriers in short order,” said Smith. “With our capital base and management infrastructure fortified, we now have the tools and resources to expand and reward the traveling public in the Eastern Caribbean with an elevated level of air service, professionalism, and reliability.”

Willoughby noted: “BVI Airways presents a unique opportunity to fund the expansion of a well run carrier with a superb safety and compliance record along with a reputation for excellent on-time performance and customer service. We look forward to building upon BVI Airways’ already solid foundation by working closely with the various communities we serve to tailor our routes and flight times in an effort to optimize passenger convenience, while also keeping costs in check.”

Willoughby brings more than 35 years of aviation industry experience to his new leadership position with BVI Airways. His career has bridged both the military and civil aviation sectors with extensive expertise in passenger and cargo operations. Willoughby began his career in the US Air Force, serving a total of 30 years on active and reserve duty. In addition to accumulating more than 7,500 hours in heavy lift/tanker aircraft, he held senior staff and command positions in airlift/tanker operations, directing, planning and executing worldwide operations. In 1998 he was selected to the rank of brigadier general.

The bulk of Willoughby’s civil aviation career was spent with Delta Air Lines, where he logged more than 17,500 hours as an international check captain, operating the L1011, B757, B767 and MD80 aircraft. He also served as vice president of flight operations for cargo 360 from 2005 until its sale in 2007. Over the past seven years, Willoughby has worked as an aviation consultant with an emphasis on management, auditing, regulatory compliance and start-up airline certification.

BVI Airways will expand its fleet in the coming weeks, adding a second Jetstream 32 aircraft during the summer 2014 period. The carrier’s existing Jetstream 32 is currently in the United States undergoing a comprehensive retrofitting program in line with the sale. New turbine engines, an upgraded interior, and a fresh new livery will greet BVI Airways passengers once the aircraft returns to service on April 7, 2014.

“New aircraft will also mean new destinations,” added Willoughby. “We’ve got exciting plans to better connect the Eastern Caribbean in the coming months. BVI Airways is about to take off.”
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