Dec. 19, 2003 – It's settled. Caribbean Sun Airlines can operate in the Virgin Islands. Sun Airways, when it begins operations, also can do so. And each company will fly under its own name.
After several days of court-ordered mediation, a settlement was announced in District Court shortly after 5 p.m. on Friday.
A hearing on whether Caribbean Sun Airlines would be allowed to continue operating in the territory was rescheduled to Friday from Wednesday, Tom Bolt, attorney for Caribbean Sun Airlines, had said on Thursday. See "Caribbean Sun hearing now set for Friday".)
A conflict between the two carriers came to light earlier this month when Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards, backed by an opinion from Attorney General Iver Stridiron, refused to register Caribbean Sun Airlines as a business operating in the territory on the grounds that its name was too similar to those of two other businesses — Sun Airways and Caribbean Airline Acquisitions. See "Airline's plans for the V.I. grounded".)
District Judge Thomas K. Moore ordered the parties into mediation on Monday, according to court documents. Attorneys for the carriers and for the government spent Friday from 11 a.m., the time set for the court hearing on an injunction sought by Caribbean Sun, until about 5 p.m. concluding their negotiations. Bolt declined to comment on the procedure but issued a release, as did Richards.
According to both releases, the matter has been amicably settled. Sun Airways, a domestic corporation, and Caribbean Sun Airlines, a foreign corporation, have agreed to make every effort to ensure that the public isn't confused over their names, the lieutenant governor's release stated. It did not say what those efforts would entail.
"I want to thank the court; the mediator, Henry C. Smock; and the parties for resolving this dispute," Richards said. "I welcome Caribbean Sun to our business community and look forward to their service in the territory, especially on the island of St. Croix."
Richards' earlier refusal to allow the airline to operate had provoked harsh criticism from the local business community and from residents, mainly on St. Croix, where need for more airlift is especially acute.
Caribbean Sun Airlines is offering round-trip service three times a day between St. Croix and St. Thomas and one daily round trip between St. Croix and San Juan. All flights are aboard a Dash Eight aircraft.
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