Crystal Skye prepares for first charter


Crystal AirCruise is taking its new private Boeing 777-200LR on test flights before the aircraft sets off on its first charter in September.

“Crystal Skye” was christened at a ceremony in Las Vegas on Sunday. The aircraft and its upcoming charter plans were introduced to invited guests.

Crystal’s parent company, Genting Hong Kong, has chartered the aircraft for its first flight, and the National Hockey League (NHL) will be using it for an undisclosed flight. Crystal Cruises CEO Edie Rodriguez also confirmed “several confidential agreements” that have yet to be specified.

Chairman and CEO of luxury travel agency network Virtuoso Matthew D. Upchurch was named as godfather of the aircraft.

Rodriguez said: “We are ecstatic to welcome Crystal Skye to the family, as she marks the beginning of a new chapter and realm of luxury travel for guests who seek the unmatched Crystal Experience.”

The aircraft’s interior was designed by Greenpoint Technologies and is fitted with a full-service bar and lounge area. The aircraft is configured with 88 fully lie-flat first-class seats.

Rodriguez continued: “As we embark on new global adventures with Crystal Skye, we are inspired by the shared vision of our own experts and those at Greenpoint Technologies, who brought this sky-high dream to fruition.”

The Boeing 777 is registered in Aruba as P4-XTL. The registry helped Crystal Cruises to set up its own Air Operators Certificate.

Crystal’s journey

The aircraft was handed over to Crystal at the beginning of the month at an official ceremony in Boeing Field, Seattle.

It made its debut in Florida soon after the handover, arriving at Opa-locka Executive Airport on 6 August to undergo testing in the presence of invited guests. From there, the aircraft flew to Las Vegas for its christening.

It is now undergoing proving flights before entering service at the end of the month. The aircraft is now available for charter.

Charter plans

The aircraft’s first charter is the “Golden Week Holiday AirCruise”. The charter takes place over nine days from 30 September to 8 October. It is being managed by Genting Hong Kong.

The flight will depart from Hong Kong or Macau, depending on time slot availability, and arrive in Nairobi for a three-day stay. From here, the journey will continue to Tahiti for two nights before returning to Hong Kong/Macau.

Genting Hong Kong has three more cruises planned: an eight-day journey from Hong Kong to St Petersburg, a ten-day round trip from Hong Kong to San Sebastian, and another ten-day trip to Rome. There are no firm dates for these flights yet.

Crystal Cruises initially had other plans for the aircraft. The company advertised seven all-inclusive journeys, which were cancelled a month before the aircraft was delivered.

The original 27-day inaugural flight was scheduled to take off on 31 August from New York to Paris, stopping at ten Peninsula hotels around the world.

Not the first

This is not Crystal’s first foray into luxury aircraft charter. It operates its “Luxury Air” cruise and charter service on a smaller Bombardier Global Express XRS. The flights last between 14 and 28 days.

The cruise firm planned to purchase another jetliner, a Boeing 787-8 outfitted for 52 passengers, but it scrapped the idea last summer.