PHOTO: Sunrise Airways will launch new service between Orlando and Port au Prince beginning in October. (photo by Brian Major)
Haitian carrier Sunrise Airways will launch nonstop service between Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Orlando, Florida beginning in October, the carrier’s first-ever direct service from the Caribbean nation to the U.S. The flights will also be the first to connect Orlando International Airport with Haiti’s Toussaint Louverture International Airport.
The new scheduled flights will commence October 17 subject to government approval, said Sunrise officials in a statement. Seats are projected to be available for bookings in mid-June.
“As Haiti’s hometown airline, Sunrise is especially proud to be the first to bring the convenience of nonstop service between Port-au-Prince and Orlando to the Central Florida market,” said Philippe Bayard, the company’s president. “For us, as an airline, and more importantly for the sizable Haitian community living in the Orlando area, these new flights are a tremendous development.”
Sunrise Airways will deploy an Airbus A320 aircraft on the new Orlando–Port-au-Prince route. The aircraft will feature business and coach sections with seating for 150 passengers.
Sunrise has previously worked with Haiti’s government to support initiatives to increase tourism to the country. The airline has also offers intra-Caribbean routes between Haiti and Cuba, Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and the Turks & Caicos.
Haitian tourism officials are seeking to re-ignite the tourist arrivals surge was absent in 2016 after the country posted strong visitor growth each year between 2013 and 2015. After welcoming 1,189,269 visitor arrivals in 2015, a 5.2 percent increase over 2014, arrivals declined significantly in 2016 according to Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) data.
Hurricane Matthew killed an estimated 1,600 residents in October, stretching the country’s scant resources and has contributed to the nation’s 2016 arrivals slide.
Nevertheless, Haiti’s rebirth as a Caribbean tourism destination is expected to resume in 2017 as the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Industries (MTIC) continues an aggressive program of tourism development initiatives.