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Prinair logo.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1964,
as Aerolíneas de Ponce
(Ponce Airlines)[3]
Commenced operations 1966
Ceased operations 1 June 1985[4][5][clarification needed]
Operating bases Mercedita Airport
Hubs Ponce
Focus cities San Juan
Fleet size 39
Destinations St. Thomas
St. Croix
San Juan
St. Kitts
St. Martin
Santo Domingo
Santiago, D.R.
Caicos Islands
Company slogan Flying the colorful Caribbean
Fly the One
We serve the Caribbean best
The Airline of Puerto Rico
Parent company Aerolíneas de Ponce
Headquarters Ponce, Puerto Rico
Key people Jaime S. Carrión, President (1972)[6]
Cesar Toledo, President (1979)[7]
Juan C Hernandez, President 2014 (actual)[8]
Employees 600[9]

Prinair was a Puerto Rican airline. It was Puerto Rico's domestic and international flag carrier airline for almost two decades.


Service began in 1966 under the name Aerolíneas de Ponce (Ponce Airlines) with Aero Commander aircraft.[10] The initial service flew from Mercedita Airport in Ponce to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (then known as Isla Verde International Airport) in San Juan. The company's name was changed to Prinair the following year (Puerto Rico INternational AIR lines).[11]

De Havilland Heron freighter of Prinair at Opa-locka Airport near Miami in 1987

The airline later used de Havilland Heron piston-engined aircraft for its services. The livery reminded the public of Braniff International Airways because of the many different colors used.[citation needed] During the 1970s, expansion saw the airline start cargo freighter services to Opa-locka (a Florida location close to Miami) as well as passenger service to Santo Domingo, the Virgin Islands (U.S. and British), Martinique, Barbados, Puerto Plata, and many other Caribbean destinations, as well as Vieques, Mayagüez, Culebra and Aguadilla on the domestic side.

During 1978, Nicolas Nogueras, a famed Puerto Rican politician, sought a writ of certiorari against Prinair at the United States Supreme Court; he was denied.[12]

In the early 1980s Prinair introduced service with larger and more capable Convair 580 turboprop aircraft. This provided the plane spotter at San Juan with another interesting aircraft type to look out for, but did little for the airline other than help increase the earnings from the Virgin Islands routes. Increased competition for these routes from Aero Virgin Islands and Oceanair, in addition to a measure of distrust from the public that had not forgotten a number of fatal crashes, caused Prinair to cease operations in November 1984.[clarification needed] It was the intention that Prinair would have been one of the launch customers of the CASA CN-235 and at the roll-out of the new aircraft in September 1983 the prototype was actually painted in Prinair colors (right side only). However, the demise of Prinair prevented delivery. The airline did operate an earlier CASA-manufactured aircraft, the C-212 Aviocar turboprop.

In 2007, Prinair resumed operations with Piper Chieftain propeller-driven aircraft;[13] The airline again ceased all flights in 2010.

Incidents and accidents[edit]

Prinair suffered three fatal accidents and two non-fatal hijacking incidents[14][15] during its existence.

On March 5, 1969 Prinair Flight 277 departed Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands for a flight to San Juan. Seventeen minutes after take-off, the crew contacted San Juan Approach Control. The approach controller on duty (a trainee) replied; "Prinair Two Seven Seven, San Juan Approach Control, radar contact three miles east of Isla Verde...maintain four thousand." The aircraft was actually three miles east of the Fajardo waypoint instead of the Isla Verde waypoint (which is located about 10 miles west of the Fajardo waypoint). Six minutes later the aircraft crashed in the Sierra de Luquillo mountains at an elevation of about 2400 feet; all 19 occupants were killed. The accident investigation found that Air Traffic Control was to blame.[16]

On June 24, 1972 Prinair Flight 191 crashed after going around just after touching down at Ponce's Mercedita Airport, killing five of the 20 occupants (including both pilots).[17] An accident investigation found that the go-around was prompted by a vehicle on the runway,[18] but the investigation was re-opened three years after the accident due to evidence that there was no vehicle on the runway; the second investigation concluded that the go-around was due to unknown reasons.[19]

Prinair Flight 610 crashed moments after taking off at Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands on July 24, 1979 with the loss of eight lives.[20] An accident investigation found that the aircraft had been overloaded by 1,060 pounds and that the center of gravity (CG) was 8 inches beyond the maximum rear limit.[21]

Destinations in 1981[edit]

According to the February 1, 1981 Prinair system timetable route map, the airline was operating scheduled passenger service to the following destinations in the Caribbean.[22] All flights were operated with either Convair 580 turboprop or de Havilland Heron prop aircraft at this time:

Historical fleet[edit]

A second version of Prinair operated between 2007 and 2010 with Piper Chieftain aircraft.


  1. ^ Information about Prinair at the Aero Transport Data Bank
  3. ^ Profile for Ponce Air. ATDB aero. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  4. ^ Collector's Guide to Airline Timetables. Air Times. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  5. ^ Suspended todos los vuelos de Prinair. El Nuevo Dia. San Juan, Puerto Rico. P.14. 2 June 1985.
  6. ^ PUERTO RICO INT. AIR., INC. v. INTERNATIONAL ASS'N OF M. & A. W. (PUERTO RICO INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES, INC., Plaintiff, v. INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS et al., Defendants.) US. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. Civ. No. 540-73. 366 F.Supp. 646 (1973). July 26, 1973. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  7. ^ Aircraft Accident Report: NTSB/AAR-80-03. Nat. Transp. Safety Brd. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  8. ^ Recordando a Prinair.
  9. ^ Prinair recovering; yields first, traffic second; after 18 months of minor losses the large Puerto Rican airline moves back into the black; new aircraft allow aging Herons to be retired. J.A. Donoghue. Air Transport World. HiBeam Business. 1 June 1984. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  10. ^ Prinair history page. Retrieved: August 13, 2008. Archived October 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Prinair page. Retrieved: August 13, 2008.
  12. ^
  13. ^ www,, Photos of Prinair Piper Chieftain aircraft at San Juan (SJU)
  14. ^ Aviation Safety Network December 21, 1970 Prinair hijacking incident page. Retrieved: August 13, 2008.
  15. ^ Aviation Safety Network April 16, 1972 Prinair hijacking incident page. Retrieved: August 13, 2008.
  16. ^ Aviation Safety Network N563PR accident page. Retrieved: August 13, 2008.
  17. ^ Aviation Safety Network N554PR accident page. Retrieved: August 13, 2008.
  18. ^ First NTSB Report on the crash of N554PR. Retrieved: August 13, 2008.
  19. ^ Second NTSB Report on the crash of N554PR. Retrieved: August 13, 2008.
  20. ^ Aviation Safety Network N575PR accident page. Retrieved: August 13, 2008.
  21. ^ NTSB Report on the crash of N575PR.
  22. ^, Feb. 1, 1981 Prinair system timetable