American Airlines Launches New Direct Flight to British Virgin Islands

For the first time since the 1980s, travelers can now fly directly from the U.S. mainland to the BVIs.

They waited beside the mangroves. From the control tower at Terrance B. Lettsome Airport, the forested, mountain peaks of Tortola rise up over mangrove-lined lagoons and a yacht-filled harbor at Beef Island. Stilt walkers, a motorcade and a band waited with them, a crowd of people gathered to welcome the first direct commercial flight from the U.S. mainland to the British Virgin Islands in more than three decades.

On June 1, the dry spell ended when an outbound American Airlines flight from Miami (MIA) squelched onto the tarmac at Terrance B. Lettsome Airport (EIS), an Embraer E175 emblazoned with a red and blue tail taxiing past the fleet of private jets nearly always found nearby.


Finally, travelers have an easy way to reach the British Virgin Islands. Previously, travel to the BVIs typically involved a flight to the neighboring U.S. Virgin Islands and a combination of cumbersome ferry rides to reach.

A beloved destination for sailing excursions, kiteboarding, snorkeling and private getaways, the BVIs are brimming with natural beauty and luxurious hideouts for travelers seeking a warm weather escape.

On Tortola, the bustling shops of Road Town anchor an island encircled by surf breaks, laid-back beach bars, exquisite Caribbean restaurants and vacation rentals. Adjacent Virgin Gorda is home to world-class resorts like Saba Rock and the opulent Rosewood Little Dix Bay, which one-two tourists with natural beauty like The Baths National Park. Tiny Jost Van Dyke harbors a history of buccaneer lore alongside a rogue’s gallery of legendary Caribbean dive bars like Foxy’s and the Soggy Dollar. Meanwhile, far-flung Anegada stands alone as one of the scuba diving locations in the Caribbean.


“Our tourism subsection was severely impacted by the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 along with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said MWM Global Holdings Managing Director Meade Malone, who operates SeaScape Villas on Tortola’s West End. “These flights bring with them the real possibility of fully revitalizing that tourism subsection and growing it to new heights in the future, so we are excited about what these flights could mean for tourism, the overall economy and the lives of the people in the British Virgin Islands.”

In 2019, the BVIs recorded nearly 900,000 tourists, short of a pre-hurricane 1.2 million visitors in 2016. Figures fell dramatically in 2020 to just 83,000, but rebounded to about 541,000 in 2022.


American Airlines plans to continue nonstop service from MIA to EIS throughout the summer before pausing briefly to resume the service in November.

“It’s a game-changer for the country,” said Tortola taxi driver Dougie Penn, who regularly ferries travelers from the airport on Beef Island to destinations around its larger neighboring island. “We have been waiting for this for quite some time. Thus far, we have witnessed some reasonable passenger load, and we are in great spirit that it’s going to get better.”

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