JAMAICA AIR Shuttle Limited has announced it will add a third weekly frequency between Kingston and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, effective July 1.
The airline will operate flights between the two capitals on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. There are also plans for a fourth flight per week, should the growth trend continue.
Deryck Dwyer, the airline's marketing manager, said the addition of capacity is in response to an increase in demand on the route. He attributed this to four factors:
First, he noted that the existence of non-stop flights is an important catalyst for travel for business and cultural reasons.
Dwyer said, with approximately 12 million people, the combined populations of the neighbouring CARICOM states, Haiti and Jamaica, account for nearly 75 per cent of the total CARICOM population.
Important critical mass
He said the business communities in both Haiti and Jamaica are finding that an expanded presence in the other country is providing them with important critical mass. Dwyer added that Haiti will lead the CARICOM grouping in economic growth in 2012, with a projected annual increase in real GDP of 7.8 per cent.
Dywer said the third reason for the increased demand on the route is that the two societies are using the existence of Jamaica Air Shuttle's direct air service to rekindle long-standing business and cultural ties between the nations.
"It is estimated that nine per cent of Haitians, or close to 900,000 persons, have ancestral, extended family or temporary residential links to Jamaica. The cultural and business links have been in existence for over 200 years," said Dwyer.
According to him, the fourth reason for growth in travel is the improved business climate in Haiti. He said there has been rapid expansion in the hotel room stock in the recovery phase since the January 2010 earthquake; and that Jamaican businessmen are rediscovering the high level of sophistication in the product distribution, which will allow them to achieve a high level of market penetration.