Sangster closes in on pre-COVID numbers as air travel rebounds
WESTERN BUREAU: MBJ Airports Limited is inching closer to pre-COVID-19 arrival figures as airlines increase their requests for slots at its Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James. In the last three days – and one month ahead of the...
MBJ Airports Limited is inching closer to pre-COVID-19 arrival figures as airlines increase their requests for slots at its Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James.
In the last three days – and one month ahead of the start of the winter tourist season – the airport operators have experienced buoyancy in traffic, with American Airlines introducing two of its latest Boeing Dreamliners to their tarmacs; while Frontier has expanded connections between the United States and Jamaica; and Eurowing has commenced new service from Frankfurt, Germany.
It has been a busy week for the island’s tourism capital as the industry seems set for recovery, at least in the resort areas.
American is currently bringing 11 flights per day into the Montego Bay facility, and that number will increase to 14 per day by December, MBJ Airports Limited’s commercial, business development and marketing manager, Sharon Hislop, confirmed to The Gleaner on Tuesday.
The number-one carrier into the country, Hislop said that American’s transition to the Dreamliner was a matter of efficiency, offering more amenities and comfort to its passengers.
Sangster International is the airline’s second largest market, behind San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Miami, Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta, New York, Charlotte and Boston are just a few of the cities that the US carrier flies from into Jamaica.
Hislop is optimistic that the carriers will bolster the upcoming winter tourist season, and admits that, although the arrival numbers were not yet at 2019 level, based on the slot requests she was getting, they were seeing more flights operating into the city.
“For example, what we have today is airlines operating larger flights, and we anticipate we will have more traffic in the winter season,” she said.
As American Airlines made its presence felt with two wide-bodied aircraft landing back-to-back on the tarmac on Tuesday, the newest kid on the block, low-fare carrier Frontier, also made good on its promise to add a third route, bringing in 42 passengers from Orlando International Airport as part of its thrice-weekly services between Atlanta and Montego Bay on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and Orlando on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.
“The two new routes represent Frontier’s third new route addition to MBJ in seven months, following the airline’s launch of three weekly services from Miami in May 2021,” stated Hislop.
On Wednesday, MBJ Airports Limited again proved why it has been named Jamaica’s leading gateway when it welcomed a Eurowings Discover direct flight from Frankfurt.
Eurowings Discover is the new vacation airline of the Lufthansa Group. By summer 2022, the carrier will operate out of Munich into Jamaica.
“As part of the Lufthansa network, travellers can benefit from direct connections and seamless transfers to and from all German and European Lufthansa destinations, as well as an end-to-end booking process. Eurowings Discover is a new carrier and is a separate and distinct entity from Eurowings, which operated in the past,” explained Hislop.
Frankfurt Airport is the busiest by passenger numbers in Germany, and fourth busiest in Europe.
Eurowings Discover Flight 4Y6 will operate two weekly non-stop services from Frankfurt to MBJ on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
MBJ Airports Limited CEO Shane Munroe was pleased with the addition of the new service, which highlights travel’s continued rebound within the European sector for the rest of 2021 and beyond.
“This additional airline service will give our aviation and tourism industry a further boost from the European market, as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Audley Deidrick, president and CEO of the Airports Authority of Jamaica.
His comments were cemented by Eurowings Discover’s Rupert Kraus, head of network, planning and airport relations, who expressed excitement and enthusiasm that their new airline took off with its very first flight to Montego Bay.
“With the easing of travel restrictions and our direct connection, tourists from all over Germany and Europe can once again enjoy the friendly hospitality and beautiful landscape which Jamaica has to offer. It is a great addition to our current portfolio and we are happy to support the recovery of tourism in Jamaica,” said Kraus.