The views are captivating from start to finish
There is no onboard service. There is no business class lounge. No champagne, no choice of steak or chicken, no fun. There are only eight minutes from takeoff to landing and there is no time for that.
There are also shorter flights, such as the rebound from Westray to Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands in Scotland, which takes only 90 seconds, but the flight between the Caribbean islands of Anguilla and St. Martin is currently the shortest international trade flight in the world. .
Anguilla, a British territory only 25.7 km long and 5.6 km wide, is a flat, dry, limestone island surrounded by 33 white sandy beaches.
This is a favorite place of celebrities who are looking for a discreet place to be blissfully alone. No one is surprised to see LeBron James jumping off a cliff in Little Bay or Justin Bieber singing “Sorry” on stage with local singer Banks Banks.
The neighboring island of St. Maarten is located only 7.2 km south of the nearest point. Divided into two parts, the northern part of the island is an overseas province of France, and the southern part, called Sint Martin, is an integral part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The Princess Juliana International Airport on St Martin has become a stand-alone tourist attraction as planes fly low over the beach to land on the island and take off again with the same dramatic effect.
Captain Carl Avery Thomas owns Anguilla Air Services, the only airline to offer scheduled flights between Sint Maarten and Anguilla and one of the company’s five pilots. He says maintaining air connections is very important for a small island like Anguilla.
As Anguilla is highly dependent on tourism, in most families at least one member works in this sector and this short flight is crucial.
“You can’t promote a five-star destination like Anguilla without an airport. If the only way to get to the island is by boat, I don’t think that’s good for our product,” he said.
Regular ferries between Sint Maarten and Anguilla were stopped during the pandemic, but have now been resumed.
Most tourists arrive on the island by motorboat from Sint Maarten after using one and often two flights to get there.
On a nice day, it’s a beautiful 25-minute speedboat ride, but when the sea is rough, the trip isn’t the most comfortable. And Thomas believes that many visitors do not want to be “thrown into a boat in a stormy sea” during the last stage of their journey.
Although most air passengers are tourists, the pandemic has led to more and more Anglicans preferring to fly, with special tariffs for locals. As there are fewer points of contact than the boat, there is no minibus transfer between the airport and the pier and fewer people come into contact with luggage, it has become a more trouble-free option and in some respects is more physically distant from others.
But perhaps the biggest advantage of the flight is that the views are captivating from start to finish. It is both a picturesque flight and an important connection between two islands.
The plane takes off from Princess Juliana International Airport on the island of Sint Martin and does not fly more than 1,000 feet, and overlooks the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, long sandy beaches and luxury private villas and resorts.
It doesn’t take long to start. The plane took off east, over the lagoon of Simpson Bay, then turned left and crossed the French part of the island and the narrow strip of land, heading north for a short passage to Anguilla.
Crossing the south coast, where shallow bays are located, the plane descends over the bushes around Blowing Point, the main port of the island.
From here to Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport, famous for its long sandy beach and beach bars such as Elvis and Johnno, there are only a few minutes left until the bikes land at Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport, just eight minutes away. after leaving St. Maarten.
In addition to tourism, Thomas aircraft play another important role in supporting this traditional maritime and fishing community.
“We provide search and rescue services to the state for free,” he said. When a fishing boat gets lost, Thomas and his crew take to the air.
The plane also participates in medical transport flights and evacuations, being the only facility on the island outside the hospital with a ventilator. “During the covid, we offer it to the hospital in case it’s needed,” says Thomas.
Flights to the island are increasing. In November, Cape Air launched flights between the US Virgin Islands and Anguilla. In December, American Airlines launched flights from Miami – the only direct scheduled flights to the island from the mainland.
At the height of the holiday season, the runway at Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport became a parking lot for private jets.