For a long time San Pedranos have highly depended on the services available to them by the local Belizean airlines. One of those airlines is Island Air. Now with their recent merger with Maya Airways, Maya Island Air is the new airline that is providing even more continuous service to San Pedro and the country of Belize.
Nando Trejo is the San Pedrano who envisioned his own airline after working as a commercial pilot. Nando was born in Corozal and two weeks after was brought to the island. Both his parents are from San Pedro. He attended the San Pedro R. C. School up to standard V and then moved to Corozal to finish his primary school education at the Anglican High School. He then attended and completed four years at Wesley College.
In 1976 he traveled to New York with Bob Witte where he obtained his private pilot's license. He came back to the island on November of the same year and acquired a job at a local resort; he worked there for three and a half years. After he left the resort he went to Pensacola, Florida with a friend and came back with his commercial pilot's license. He then started working for Tropic Air as a pilot until November of 1988. Nando left to pursue his own ambitions and eventually decided to start his own airline. He already owned a plane that he was leasing out while he was working with the airline. This made his decision a lot easier to accomplish.
"Gach Guerrero was the one who pushed me into going on my own," said Nando. "He was the driving force and my right arm that helped me through the initial establishment of Island Air."
On May 8th, 1989, Island Air began providing airline services to San Pedro and Belize. Island Air's fleet consisted of only one Cessna 172 (a three-seater), one 207 (a six-seater) and one pilot. Nando used to fly both planes, changing from one to the other as the flights and reservations demanded. Gach Guerrero was the manager, Carmen Trejo Castillo worked the office and Lisa Forman was the accountant.
Island Air was flying to Belize Municipal, Phillip Goldson International Airport and to Caye Caulker. Around the end of that same year Ruben Trejo was hired as a pilot and in 1991 Nando acquired another 207 airplane. From here on, Nando mentioned, Island Air started to grow at a fast pace. Also, in this year, Island Air commenced regular flights to Corozal.
In 1992 the airline acquired its first Islander airplane and in 1995 two more Islanders were bought, including one more 207 airplane. By the end of 1995 Island Air added a twin-engine Navajo airplane to its growing fleet; it was a faster plane than the 172's and 207's. The plane was owned by Milo Paz Jr. who had been a pilot for Island Air for some time then. In early 1997 the Navajo was sold and one of the 207's was gotten rid of.
"Island Air grew very fast," said Nando. "We started with two planes and in a matter of five years Island Air was just as big as its competitors. The island needed the services of the airlines and in a short time it became an indispensable asset to the locals and businesses. And there was not much competition among the airlines. This and the growth of hotels on the island were major factors for the growth of San Pedro as a town. San Pedranos and Belizeans gained interest in investing and marketing ‘La Isla Bonita' as a touristic destination."
Island Air operated successfully for eight years, providing exceptional service to San Pedro and Belize. It wasn't until November 30th, 1997 that a major change came about. On December 1st, 1997 Island Air merged with Maya Airways and the new airline, Maya Island Air was born.
The merger started with the competition's proposal of merging with Island Air. Nando had a big decision on his hands, but he was not about to sell his airline. Months of planning and negotiation took place among the three airlines but after a year one of them backed off from the proposal. About two years after the initial proposition, Island Air and Maya Airways became one.
Nando stated that one of the main reasons that Island Air joined forces with Maya Airway was because of the expansion that has taken place in the airline. Before the merger Island Air did not fly to southern Belize. Now they have scheduled flights to Dangriga, Placencia and Punta Gorda. Maya Island Air now has scheduled flights to every major city, town and village in Belize. Now that the airline has a larger fleet and staff, one of its major objectives is to provide regional flight services to neighboring countries; Maya Island Air has future plans to become a regional airline.
"Collectively we would have already begun the process of expanding the airline into a regional one," said Nando. "But Maya Island is still working on providing this service to Belize. At the moment we are planning to get rid of the Islanders and acquire two more Caravans."
December 1st, 1997, marked a new career move for Mr. Trejo. Island Air owns 50% of the shares in the company and Maya Airways owns the other half. Maya Island Air has undergone restructuring of its offices, staff, airplanes and services. At present the airline has a fleet of 10 planes, 11 pilots and 90 workers country wide; about 50% of those workers are stationed in San Pedro. The operations center is located in San Pedro and administration is carried out in Belize City.
Mr. Nando Trejo is one of the many aspiring and visionary entrepreneurs on the island. He has established himself as a reputable person in the community, helping in the growth of the island in as many ways that he can. Mr. Trejo is a family man, a businessman, and most appealingly a funny man, one of the personal characteristics that make him the successful person that he is today.
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