Silver Airways

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Silver Airways
Silver Airways.png
IATA
3M
ICAO
SIL
Callsign
SILVER WINGS
Founded 1988 (as Gulfstream International Airlines)
AOC # 29GA010N (formerly GUUA428B)
Hubs As United Express:
Washington Dulles International Airport
As Silver Airways:
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
Tampa International Airport
Alliance Star Alliance (affiliate)
Fleet size 28
Destinations 32
Parent company Victory Park Capital
Headquarters Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
Broward County, Florida, U.S.
Key people Dave Pflieger (Chief Executive Officer)[1]
Website silverairways.com
A Beechcraft 1900D airliner at Billings Logan International Airport.

Silver Airways Corp., operating as Silver Airways (formerly Gulfstream International Airlines ), is a United States airline with its headquarters on the property of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in unincorporated Broward County, Florida, near Fort Lauderdale.

The airline operates nearly 200 daily scheduled flights. Silver Airways operates to 26 cities in the United States and seven destinations in the Bahamas with hubs at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, and Tampa International Airport. The airline also operates scheduled flights as a United Express carrier for United Airlines to 7 cities at Washington Dulles International Airport. Silver Airways Corp. launched as a new regional carrier with assets from former Gulfstream International Airlines.[2]

As of November 2013 Silver Airways received $20,515,042 in annual Federal subsidies for Essential Air Services that it provided to rural airports in the U.S.[3]

History[edit]

The airline was established as Gulfstream International Airlines (GFT) in October 1988 and started operations on December 1, 1990. It was founded by Thomas L. Cooper, a former Boeing 727 captain for Eastern Air Lines during the pilots' strike in 1989. Initially it operated as an on-demand air taxi between Miami, Florida and Cap-Haïtien, Haiti, but was relocated to the Bahamas, when the political climate in Haiti forced the operation to halt. The airline also flew diplomatic mail to the U.S. Interest in Havana on a weekly basis. In May 1994, a codeshare agreement was signed with United Airlines. In December 1995 Gulfstream began the transition from a FAR 135 carrier to FAR 121, allowing operation of larger aircraft such as leased Short 360s. Its parent company, G-Air Holdings, acquired Paradise Island Airlines in August 1998 and continued to operate its de Havilland Canada Dash 7s. Prior to TWA's acquisition by American Airlines, Gulfstream operated as a part of the Trans World Connection network as TWConnection. In August 2003, Paradise Island Airlines' operating certificate was sold to US Airways Group. In 2004, a long-term codeshare agreement with Continental Airlines was signed. Thomas L. Cooper sold his stake in the company to Gulfstream International Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation in March 2006. Gulfstream had approximately 600 employees as of April 2009.[citation needed]

Avtar Period[edit]

GIA had a program in which First Officers paid for their training in the Beech 1900 and flew for a block of 250 hrs as a line qualified First Officer. This program undermined the airline pilot profession in the view of many, particularly union members. To gain experience, pilots with low experience often paid over $32,000.00 to ride in the right seat of turboprops in duty positions normally occupied by a paid professional; albeit one that receives very little pay. This was also the case with captains early on with candidates paying $15,000 up front starting in 1992 with Avtar International doing the recruiting and advertising. However, these pilots received compensation following successful completion of Initial Operating Experience (IOE). The Captain's Program was initially for the CE-402B/C but later expanded to the BE-1900 and SD3-60 until the latter were repossessed. So called "Pay to work" programs started with Avtar International selling 100 hours of multi-engine time in CE-402s for $8,750 with the assurance from the Miami Flight Standard District Office that this time was loggable. Avtar International was started by Vic Johnson of New Jersey and Bill Veiga, a former Cessna Aircraft test pilot. Initially, most intern pilots were sent to GIA's chief competitor, Airways International as Gulfstream possessed only one aircraft: N200UV, a Cessna 402B. As Gulfstream continued to grow, they took the lion's share of Avtar pilots and the price was restructured to $8900 for 150 hours of flight time. Soon, a turbo prop program was added: $15,000 for 100 hours on a BE-C99; later increased to 200 hours and then 300 hours. Simultaneously, Avtar offered a heavy turbo prop program with Airways on their SD3-330 for $16,000. This program ended with the demise of Airways International and was only briefly restored with Gulfstream's own SD3-360s; a program that sold for $39,500 for 500 hours. The status of the CE402 F/Os was always the most ambiguous. Non-functioning autopilots made SICs a requirement but they were left behind (bumped) if passenger loads or weight & balance considerations dictated [1]. From their outstation locations they were expected to jumpseat home on GIA or other carriers, if necessary, because no return tickets were provided. For these reasons, and the fact that the company was founded and run by strike breakers from the very acrimonious Eastern Air Lines Strike of the late eighties, a few professional pilots refuse to fly on GIA as a passenger though they frequently jumpseat [2]. After complaints of jumpseating abuse by the interning First Officers from pilots at Major Carriers, Gulfstream, to its credit, made this a punishable activity for pilots not considered employed. Interning pilots were issued unique ID badges stamped in bold red "Jumpseat NA." Equally controversial, was the practice of using foreign nationals on student or tourist visas (including citizens of the People's Republic of China). These crewmembers were also recruited by Avtar Int'l which operated until 1997 when Gulfstream took over the practice with a sister company: The Gulfstream Training Academy. Post 9/11, many of these programs have been cleaned up and no international First Officers have been deported or detained by U.S. Customs since. Pilots who have interned with GIA have been hired by many other airlines, including all Major Airlines. Most have not brought any negatives to their new employers, although they have been among the crews of prominent crashes[3]. See also Pinnacle Airlines Flight 3701, Comair Flight 5191 and Colgan Air Flight 3407 . Gulfstream itself has never had a fatal accident.

In 2009 U.S. Congress investigators and the Federal Aviation Administration accused Gulfstream of falsifying flight time records, making crews fly longer hours than allowed by law [4], and providing below standard aircraft maintenance. Capt. Thomas L. Cooper forbade the photocopying of aircraft logbooks done by some pilots to corroborate the times they logged in their personal logbooks.

Historically, pilots were paid "segment hours." So called, "segment hours" were based on ideal enroute times as opposed to block times and have been suspected of being part of an inducement for under reporting. Logging of true block hours (actual enroute times plus taxi time) could be detrimental to pilot pay. Whereas, most carriers pay pilots based on block time, since it is what FAA flight time limits are based on, GIA did not. An incentive existed to under report block time by keeping it as close to segment time as possible thereby permitting pilots to get paid for the most segment hours in a week, a month, and a year. Delays that increased block times not only reduced the crewmember's utility to GIA but also limited his pay. This under reporting was most relevant to captains. First Officers were not remunerated until 1995 when a majority of the turboprop co-pilots on the virtual seniority list with U.S. Passports or Green Cards began to be paid $8 per segment hour. Foreign copilots, who were not compensated and merely wished to return to their home countries with as much multi engine turbine time in as few months as possible, had little incentive to abide by FAA flight time limits.

In July 1997, the airline's entire fleet of Shorts 360-300s were repossessed by the leasing company due, in part, to maintenance irregularities that included the welding of hydraulic lines according to USA Today. Gulfstream faces a civil penalty of $1.3 million U.S. dollars according to USA Today. Gulfstream's affiliated Gulstream Flight Academy the successor to Avtar went into scrutiny since Marvin Renslow, the pilot of Colgan Air Flight 3407, trained there.[3] This is ironic because despite its status as a mere stepping stone in the minds of most pilot employees, the company was able to keep whistle blowing in check through selective disclosure of training documents mandated by the Pilot Record Improvement Act of 1996 (PRIA). PRIA came about in reaction to the crash of an American Eagle Jetstream piloted by a captain with a history of difficulties at prior airlines. It has been criticized because much of the information is subjective and the pilot waives his right to sue his former and current employers when he seeks employment with other FAR part 121 operators. Furthermore, a prospective employer is merely required to request and receive the PRIA material prior to hiring a pilot. No consideration of the material is required and the law does not apply if the applicant's former employer is the military or a foreign operator.


2009 FAA Investigation[edit]

In 2009, Gulfstream International Airlines came under additional scrutiny due to three fatal crashes that all involved pilots[4] that were trained at the Gulfstream Training Academy (its sister company[5]), the last one in February 2009, where 50 died on Colgan Air Flight 3407 near Buffalo, NY.[6]

In May 2009, the federal government issued a fine of $1.3 million against Gulfstream International Airlines after the Federal Aviation Administration found that it had falsified flight time records, allowing crews to fly longer hours than allowed by law, and providing below standard aircraft maintenance.[5] In response, CEO Dave Hackett stated that "the airline does not have safety violations"[7][8] and "the vast majority of findings were not violations at all".[9]

2010 bankruptcy and acquisition by Victory Park[edit]

On November 4, 2010, Gulfstream International Airlines, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.[10] In May 2011 Victory Park Capital acquired Gulfstream International Airlines when it bought the assets of Gulfstream International Group. Victory Park also purchased 21 of Gulfstream’s Beechcraft 1900D aircraft from Raytheon Aircraft Credit Corporation.[11]

Late 2011 to Current[edit]

On December 15, 2011, the airline was rebranded as Silver Airways and took delivery of one of six recently purchased Saab 340B+ aircraft.[12]

On January 19, 2012, Gainesville Regional Airport announced that Silver Airways would be moving its maintenance facilities from Ft. Lauderdale to Gainesville, taking over the former Eclipse Aviation facility that had remained vacant since 2009.

On March 7, 2012, Silver Airways announced the purchase of 6 more Saab 340B+ aircraft bringing the Saab fleet to 12 by September 2012.

On March 29, 2012, Silver Airways received approval from the FAA to operate Saab 340B aircraft. Scheduled service started early that day on the Florida and Bahamas routes.

On April 11, 2012, Silver Airways announced officially that it will offer daily passenger flights from Gainesville Regional Airport to Orlando International Airport and Tampa International Airport beginning from April 15, 2012.[13]

On August 1, 2012, Silver Airways expanded to Washington Dulles International Airport starting scheduled service to 2 destinations in Pennsylvania (Altoona & Johnstown), 4 destinations in West Virginia (Beckley, Clarksburg, Lewisburg/Greenbrier, and Morgantown), and Staunton/Shenandoah, Virginia.

On August 7, 2012, Silver Airways made national news headlines when it landed at the wrong airport. [14]

On August 13, 2012, Silver Airways expanded its Florida route network with adding daily scheduled service to Jacksonville, Florida.[15]

On October 1, 2012, Silver Airways expanded at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport starting daily service to destinations in Mississippi (Greenville, Tupelo, Hattiesburg-Laurel, and Meridian) and Alabama (Muscle Shoals).[16]

On June 28, 2013 Silver Airways announced that it will cease Montana operations over the next few months. The announcement comes on the heels of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) decision to eliminate subsidized service in two key Montana communities, Lewistown and Miles City. Service will end after the last flight on July 15, 2013 for Lewistown and Miles City. To ensure no interruption of service and a smooth transition for the flying public in the remaining markets serviced by Silver Airways (Glasgow, Glendive, Havre, Sidney, Wolf Point and Billings), Silver will continue its operations in those communities until such time as the DOT awards the routes to another airline and the new carrier starts service to those communities.[17]

On November 12, 2013 Silver Airways announced that it has been named one of the Top 10 “Best U.S. Airlines” in the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler’s 26th annual Readers’ Choice Awards.[18]

On February 14, 2014 Silver Airways announced plans to exit Beech 1900 operations in Essential Air Service (EAS) Cleveland network (flying to Jamestown, Bradford, DuBois, Franklin and Parkersburg). Planned exit day of service is May 15, 2014. [19]

On April 10, 2014 it was announced that Silver Airways plans to close much of its Atlanta network and redeploy its aircraft and team to other markets. Silver Airways does intend to continue operations between Atlanta and Macon, Ga., and between Macon and Orlando, as well as between Atlanta and Greenbrier/Lewisburg, W.Va .[20]

Corporate affairs[edit]

The airline headquarters are located in Suite 201 of the 1100 Lee Wagener Boulevard building on the property of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in unincorporated Broward County, Florida,[21][22][2] near Fort Lauderdale. Previously its headquarters were in Dania Beach, Florida,[23][24] also near Fort Lauderdale.[25] The airline also maintains a state-of-the-art 61,000 square-foot maintenance facility based at Gainesville Regional Airport.

Destinations[edit]

Silver Airways is the largest U.S. carrier to The Bahamas, operating more daily flights to more points throughout the multi-island country than any other airline. In its home state of Florida, Silver Airways serves more gateways with more daily flights than any other airline.

Additional EAS routes operate out of Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD) since August 2012 and out of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) since October 2012.

Domestic[edit]

Alabama Alabama
Florida Florida
Georgia (U.S. state) Georgia
Mississippi Mississippi
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania
Virginia Virginia
West Virginia West Virginia

International[edit]

The Bahamas Bahamas

Silver Airways also operates public bonded charter flights that are not under the United Express code.

Interline and codeshare agreements[edit]

Silver Airways does not participate in any major global airline alliances, but the airline has interline and codeshare agreements with several airlines. Many of these airlines are members of global airline alliances.

Fleet[edit]

The Silver Airways fleet consists of the following aircraft:

Aircraft Active Stored Orders Passengers Notes
Saab 340B 28 2 34 Operated in Washington Dulles system as United Express. Operated in the Atlanta, Florida, and Bahamas systems as Silver Airways
Total 28 2  

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sat, Apr 27, 2013, 5:42 PM EDT - U.S. Markets closed (2013-02-11). "Silver Airways Names Dave Pflieger President & CEO - Yahoo! Finance". Finance.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2013-04-27. 
  2. ^ a b Pike, Joe. "Silver Airways’ First SAAB 340 Slated to Fly to Bahamas." Travel Agent Central. Questex Media Group. December 15, 2011. Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  3. ^ http://www.dot.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/Subsidized%20EAS%20web%20report%20for%20non-Alaska%20communities-Nov%202013.pdf
  4. ^ Corrigan: Airline That Trained Pilots in 3 Most Recent Regional Crashes Culture Wars Online Magazine, 2011
  5. ^ a b Alan Levin: Airline That Trained Buffalo Crash Pilot Fined $1.3M USA Today, May 21, 2009
  6. ^ Allan Chernoff and Laura Dolan: Florida's 'pilot factory' CNN.com, May 28, 2009
  7. ^ Scrutiny of Gulfstream Intensifies Wall Street Journal online, May 27, 2009
  8. ^ "Gulfstream International denies allegations of safety violations."
  9. ^ David Hackett (Continental Connection): RE: Gulfstream International Airlines, Inc Letter to the FAA, June 11, 2009
  10. ^ Yu, Roger. "Gulfstream International files for bankruptcy protection." USA Today. November 5, 2010. Retrieved on November 5, 2010.
  11. ^ Victory Park Completes Acquisition of Gulfstream International Group
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "Silver Airways brings cheap Tampa, Orlando flights from Gainesville - The Independent Florida Alligator: Local & National". Alligator.org. Retrieved 2013-04-27. 
  14. ^ "Silver Airways flight 4049 makes a surprise visit to Fairmont Municipal Airport". drudgereport.com. Retrieved 2012-08-27. 
  15. ^ "Silver Airways". Gosilver.com. Retrieved 2013-04-27. 
  16. ^ "Silver Airways expands service at Hartsfield-Jackson". Aviation.ca. 2012-10-02. Retrieved 2013-04-27. 
  17. ^ Book Flights to Billings | Montana Flights | Silver Airways. Gosilver.com. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  18. ^ http://bizbuzz.djournal.com/2013/11/12/silver-airways-named-one-top-10-airlines-conde-naste-traveler/
  19. ^ Suttell, Scott. "Silver Airways to exit Cleveland market." Crain's Cleveland Business. February 14, 2014. Retrieved on April 12, 2014.
  20. ^ http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2014/04/10/silver-airways-to-close-much-of-atlanta-network.html
  21. ^ "Contact Us." Gulfstream International Airlines. Retrieved on December 17, 2011. "1100 Lee Wagener Blvd, Suite 201 Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33315."
  22. ^ "Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport > Business > Tenant Directory." Broward County. Retrieved on December 17, 2011. "1100 Lee Wagener Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, FL33315"
  23. ^ "Dania Beach city, Florida." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 21, 2009.
  24. ^ "Contact Us." Gulfstream International Airlines. Retrieved on May 21, 2009. "Gulfstream International Airlines 3201 Griffin Road 4th Floor Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312"
  25. ^ Pasztor, Andy and Susan Carey. "Gulfstream Faces Penalty on Pilot Hours, Maintenance." The Wall Street Journal. May 21, 2009. Retrieved on May 21, 2009.

External links[edit]