In mid-July Seaborne Airlines will reintroduce its FastPak Letter and Freight Service, the fastest way that letters or packages can travel between St. Thomas and St. Croix.
At $10, sending a Seaborne FastPak letter costs about twice as much as sending a priority letter through the Postal Service, but it is the only same-day service available between the two islands, and the letter can weigh up to 10 pounds. Customers pick up and drop off their letters at the seaplane terminals.
Seaborne has even lowered its price for sending a letter by $7. This reduction was made in the face of fuel prices that have increased by 80 percent since the beginning of the year.
Seaborne invested about $50,000 when it saw a need to get intra-island packages delivered faster than the Postal Service could deliver them.
"We pushed things forward because the need has been out there," ErSelcuk said. "Now is the time to address it."
Putting more emphasis into the air freight part of the business required changing the facilities to make it easier for customers to bring packages to the terminals.
"We have put together expanded space in St. Thomas and St. Croix," said Omer ErSelcuk, president and chief executive officer of Seaborne Airlines. "We're creating dedicated parking for pickup and dropoff and expanding our handling area for customers at the counter, and now have dedicated agents and a manager."
Postal Service mail takes at least one more day for the V.I. letters than most parts of the country because of a detour through a processing facility in San Juan, Puerto Rico. But there have been even longer delays, prompting Delegate Donna M. Christensen to ask the inspector general of the Postal Service to investigate. (See "Christensen Calls for Investigation of Mail Delays.") In addition to getting delivered twice as fast as Postal Service mail, the Seaborne letter travels less than half the distance.
While the cost is $4.80 for a Priority Mail letter, a letter mailed using the Postal Service from St. Thomas to St. Croix also makes a significantly longer journey than the Seaborne letter. Letters sent between St. Croix and St. Thomas take an early-morning flight from the territory to the processing facility in San Juan and get flown to the destination island later that day for delivery the day after, according to Monica Hand, spokesperson for the Postal Service.
While the airline has seen a more than 500-percent increase in fuel costs since 2002, ErSelcuk says he's trying to keep costs down for the community. The airline has raised passenger fares by $2 for adults, but it has reduced kids' fares by $10 on the round trip, according to ErSelcuk.
"We are operating very efficiently," he said. "I don't want to raise fares."
For more information about Seaborne's letter service, click here.
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