Fly Oriole – A New Airbus A380 Airline In The Caribbean?

There’s a new airline on the horizon, and its name is Fly Oriole. Launching from Jamaica, the airline aims to make everywhere on the island accessible within 60 minutes, as well as improving the connections to other domestic and international destinations. Most excitingly, every image the airline has so far released has featured an A380! Let’s take a look at Fly Oriole.

Fly Oriole A380
Fly Oriole is targeting a 2021 launch. Photo: Fly Oriole

What is Fly Oriole all about?

The airline’s website states that this Jamaican airline will operate as a low-cost carrier. It states its aims as including projecting ‘Brand Jamaica’ onto the world stage and helping Jamaica become a ‘regionally connected aviation powerhouse’.

The leadership team driving this airline forward includes Jamaican diplomat, lawyer and mediator Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, who is the chairperson of the airline. She is backed up by Lars Welinder, a veteran multi-market business development expert who sits on the board of a number of airline-related businesses, including Mango Aviation Partners and Global Aviation Advisors Alliance.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Ndombet-Assamba said,

“I knew from the time when I was minister of tourism that Jamaica has been a graveyard for airlines. We probably remember Trans-Jamaican Airlines, Jamaica Air Shuttle, Air Jamaica Express, Air Jamaica and most recently Fly Jamaica. They have all come and gone. I hope like me you will be persuaded that now is the time for a bold new vision for the aviation sector in Jamaica. We have a rare opportunity to consider our own transformational investment opportunity for Jamaica.”

CEO is Keith Kerr, who comes from a background which includes British Airways, Air Jamaica and MD of Bournemouth International Airport. The airline also has a director of strategy in place, Nick Cooper, who comes with three decades of experience in setting up and growing businesses, including working with BA, KLM and Airbus.

The airline has even appointed an executive director who is a specialist in biofuels, to give Fly Oriole an edge on the sustainability front.

Where will it fly?

The airline’s primary focus appears to be on providing regular service between the Kingston Airports and the Montego Bay Sangster International Airport, a service it says it will operate seven days per week.

It says it will also launch services to key domestic routes, including Negril, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, Turtle Beach and international routes to some key Caribbean destinations including Grand Cayman, Haiti and Cuba.

oriole route network
The potential future network for Oriole. Photo: GCMap

Longer term, the airline is looking to expand services to some other Caribbean islands as well as South American destinations, including Antigua, Barbados, Curacao, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Panama, Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago.

What will it fly?

The fleet plans of this airline are yet to be disclosed. However, it has said that its aircraft will be leased. The only press image the airline has released is the one above, of the A380. Could it fly an A380 on some of these routes?

A380 compatibility
A380 compatibility in the Caribbean is not the best. Photo: Airbus

According to the Airbus A380 compatibility map, there are some destinations in the Caribbean that can accommodate the type. However, Jamaica is not one of them. Despite this, it doesn’t mean the A380 is off the table, as operators such as Hi Fly have proven it is possible to operate the aircraft from airports not set up to handle it.

In interviews, Kerr has noted how high capacity leads to lower fares, so perhaps an A380 is in the airline’s gameplan? We’ll just have to wait and see.

When will it launch?

According to the Fly Oriole website, where it’s counting down the time until operations begin, we have 377 days and some hours to wait until the airline launches.

This puts the launch date at Sunday 21st February 2021. As we’ve seen with other airline startups, launch dates can be movable, as there are a multitude of things that can go wrong. The CEO says that Oriole has already secured 80% of the initial funding required from Jamaican and European sources. That’s often a stumbling block for startups, but if Oriole can secure the rest of the money it needs, then half the battle is won.

More than a year to sort out all the necessary aspects of the business seems like a reasonable window, so perhaps this time next year we’ll be eagerly anticipating the first flight of the airline.