interCaribbean Airways (JY, Providenciales) has decided to postpone the launch of service to each of St. Croix Henry E. Rohlsen and St. Thomas Cyril E. King in the US Virgin Islands until at least the Winter 2018/19 season due to protracted regulatory procedures and high costs of handling services at the planned destinations, Caribbean News Now has reported.

"We are confronted with handling costs that are three to four times the norm across our entire network of cities. We simply will not pay such outrageous prices. We cannot expect to have to double our everyday affordable low airfares to compensate, for which we will not see support from the travelling public," the carrier has said, noting that the procedure for obtaining traffic rights for the US Virgin Islands has also taken much longer than originally anticipated.

"We wish to acknowledge we have seen the full cooperation from the CPB (Customs and Border Protection) and the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) Agencies in receiving their early and timely approvals for both St. Thomas and St. Croix," the carrier has, however, said.

The carrier had planned to serve the US Virgin Islands from Beef Island, the major gateway to the neighbouring British Virgin Islands, with seven weekly flights to each of the destinations. In anticipation of the launch, interCaribbean Airways has already repositioned a DHC-6-300 to Beef Island but will now use this unit to boost capacity on already existing routes.

While St. Croix currently sees no direct scheduled air traffic to the British Virgin Islands, St. Thomas is connected to Beef Island by Air Sunshine and VI Airlink, the ch-aviation capacity module shows.

Both airports in the US Virgin Islands are connected mostly with each other and with San Juan Luis Muñoz Marin in Puerto Rico with the major carriers being Cape Air, Air Sunshine, and Seaborne Airlines. Both airports also see sizeable traffic to the mainland US, operated by most major carriers from the country.

For its part, Beef Island sees mostly traffic to San Juan Luis Muñoz Marin with interCaribbean Airways as the leading carrier with a 39.1% market share by capacity at the airport.