dale-v_c_holness_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE — Tortug’Air, a Haitian airline based in Port-au-Prince, will make daily flights to Cap-Haïtien from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) starting Thursday, June 5.

The inaugural flight with about 50 passengers leaves Fort Lauderdale at 7 a.m. to Cap-Haïtien,(also known as Okap in Creole), a city on the north coast of Haiti.

Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness will speak with dignitaries and passengers before the 7 a.m. departure then board the flight, returning to Fort Lauderdale a few hours later.

Since 2003, Cap-Haïtien and Fort Lauderdale have been Sister Cities.

“In addition to Haitian Americans, business and leisure travelers can benefit from direct flights to Cap-Haïtien and we are grateful Tortug’Air has chosen Fort Lauderdale International Airport to launch these flights, and I look forward to being on the inaugural flight on June 5,” said Holness in a statement.

Cap-Haïtien or Le Cap, a city of 500,000 people, is Haiti’s second largest city.

Cap-Haïtien, once called the “Paris of the Antilles,” has more of a Latin feel than most of Haiti and has traditionally been a resort and vacation destination for Haiti’s upper classes, according to Tortug’Air’s web site.

Holness said he expects great business and trade opportunities with Haiti and reports numbers to support his premise. In 2013, South Florida’s total trade with Haiti surpassed $1.3 billion and Haiti ranks 25th of South Florida’s top 100 trading partners, said Holness. In northern Haiti, Fort-Libertè has an extensive free trade zone.  

“The convenience of flying into Cap-Haïtien will benefit many of the residents of South Florida, particularly those from northern Haiti, areas such as, Port-de-Paix, Fort-Libertè, or even as far as Ganaïves, especially since there is no major airline flying directly from South Florida into Cap-Haïtien,” said Holness.

Holness will hosted a free seminar dubbed “11 Steps to Exporting: A Roadmap to Your Exporting Success.

Tortug’Air was created in March 2003, with flights focused on regional Haiti, including Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haïtien, Jeremie, and Port de Paix; the airline also flies to Santo Domingo, the capital and the largest city in the Dominican Republic.  Tortug’Air employs a staff of more than 200.

The flights between Cap-Haïtien and Fort Lauderdale will be operated by Aerodynamics Inc.

Haiti does not meet existing U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety rules. The U.S. only allows countries with a Category One safety status to serve the US.  Haiti currently has a Category Two status. The airline has to lease equipment from a Category One licensed operator.

Several American airlines currently serve Port-au-Prince, but none directly serve Cap-Haïtien.