Forty years ago, in 1979, the legendary game Trivial Pursuit was launched. In that same year, Margaret Thatcher made history by becoming the first woman Prime Minister in the UK, the $200 Sony Walkman was released, the snowboard took to the slopes for the first time, and Pink Floyd released their album, The Wall.
That same year in Belize, a savvy businessman by the name of John Grief III opened the doors to the first commercial airline in the country. With the name of Tropical Air Services Ltd, this two-employee airline (both who still work for the airline), was a far cry from the 380 employee Tropic Air of today. Back then, the runway was made of grass and the “terminal” operated out of a bodega at The Holiday Hotel. The first aircraft was a lone 1976 Cessna 172 VP-HDC (Delta Charlie), which did runs between Belize City and San Pedro.
Painting of Tropic Air’s first terminal in San Pedro.
Tropic Air San Pedro Terminal and part of fleet.
During the 1980s and 90s, Tropic continued to add destinations and terminals within the country of Belize, and the number of employees grew substantially. Eventually, Tropic branched into its first international destination with flights to Flores (to meet the demand of tourists wanting to visit the ancient Maya city of Tikal), and into tours like the Blue Hole.
Today, Tropic Air is a very different airline from 40 years ago. It boasts a fleet of 18 aircraft, flying about 320,000 passengers and 450,000 pieces of freight to 15 destinations in Belize, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. In January, Tropic Air will welcome a Beech 1900D twin engine airliner to its fleet, as well as open a new, more spacious terminal in Caye Caulker. The airline has indeed come a long way!
This month we celebrate this important Ruby Anniversary with planned activities at all our destinations. Come and join the celebration. We couldn’t have done it without you!