The Fokker 70 on the Path to Extinction: The Only Caribbean Airline to Fly It Seeks a Replacement

Gastón Sena

JetAir Caribbean, the only airline in the Caribbean operating Fokker 70 aircraft, faces a decision regarding the future of its fleet. This model, known for its distinct regional capabilities, is on the verge of extinction, prompting the airline to explore replacement options.

The company, based in Curaçao, operated with two Fokker 70 aircraft, which were the last two to come off the production line. The recent retirement of one of these aircraft, PJ-JAC, in August, has hastened the need to make a decision. Cirium Fleet Analyzer data indicates that this particular aircraft, delivered to KLM Cityhopper in January 1997, accumulated 26.7 years of service.

The remaining Fokker 70 in the JetAir Caribbean fleet, PJ-JAB, is also nearing the end of its operational life and is currently undergoing scheduled maintenance until September 28. This aircraft, originally delivered to Vietnam Airlines in January 1997, faces an uncertain future.

According to local media outlets luchtvaart and curacao.nu, the company is considering a replacement for both planes, without mentioning potential candidates.

“We would also like to announce that Jetair is well advanced in the process of selecting a new type of aircraft to replace the Fokker. The final choice is not expected to be made until next month,” the airline told the media.

Currently, the airline operates under a wet-leasing contract with Fly Allways, a Surinamese airline that provides them with another Fokker 70.

JetAir Caribbean flights connect Willemstad (CUR), Curaçao, with various destinations in the Caribbean and South America, including Kingston (KIN), Jamaica; Medellín/Rionegro (MDE), Colombia; Paramaribo (PBM), Suriname; and St. Maarten (SXM).

See Also: The Fokker 100, an aircraft ahead of its time

The “extinction” process of the Fokker 70, the last “Flying Dutchman”

The Fokker 70 is a regional aircraft developed as a derivative of the Fokker 100, capable of transporting up to 80 passengers. Both share systems, allowing pilots to maintain the same type rating.

The development of the Fokker 70 responded to the demand from airlines seeking an aircraft that could fill the gap between smaller turboprops, like the Fokker 50 or the ATR, and larger aircraft like the Boeing 737 or the MD-80. This decision also gave Fokker the opportunity to replace the aging Fokker 28 “Fellowship”, which had become obsolete and less fuel-efficient.

The transformation was relatively straightforward, involving a reduction of 4.62 meters in the fuselage length of the Fokker 100. Most other components, including the Rolls Royce Tay 620 engine, remained the same. This size reduction improved the F70’s performance, allowing it to access smaller airports, like London City Airport.

The first commercial customer of the Fokker 70 was the now-defunct Sempati Air in Indonesia in March 1995. However, a VIP version was delivered to Ford Motor Company in October 1994.

The last Fokker 70 came off the production line in April 1997, when the Dutch manufacturer faced financial issues leading to its closure. During its short production cycle, only 47 of these aircraft were delivered, with 25 still in operation today.

Alliance and Air Niugini, two Oceanian airlines, are the largest operators of the Fokker 70.

Currently, most Fokker 70 operators are located in Oceania, but they are already replacing them with more fuel-efficient and longer-range options, like the Embraer 190 and the Airbus A220.

Therefore, Africa could potentially become a significant operator of the Fokker 70, with a particular focus on Kenya.

It is important to note the absence of Fokker 70 operators in Europe and Asia, despite these regions being the first to receive Fokker 70 aircraft.

As mentioned earlier, JetAir Caribbean and Fly Allways are the only operators of this Dutch model in Latin America and the Caribbean, and soon there might be only one. Fly Allways operates routes from Paramaribo (PBM) to Belém, Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Fokker 70 was also part of the fleets of airlines such as Air Panama, Wayra Peru, and Insel Air.

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