Airlines commit millions of seats to Jamaica
1.2 million visitors projected this winter season
On its way to a strong recovery, Jamaica will have for winter 2022 almost 10 per cent more airline seats than it did in 2019, with expectations for visitor arrivals reaching 1.2 million for the period December 2021 to April 2022.
This would signal a 7.5 per cent increase in tourist arrivals over 2019, if a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic does not derail the handsome trajectory.
Pre-pandemic, the country was on its way to welcoming 4.5 million stopover and cruise ship visitors to its shores.
Addressing journalists at a Jamaica Destination Update at the Moon Palace Jamaica resort in Ocho Rios, St Ann, on Wednesday, Director of Tourism Donovan White said that a substantial number of airlines have committed seats to the island for the upcoming winter season, which commences on December 15.
From the island's most important source market, the United States (US), and the largest supplier of passengers, American Airlines, several airlifts have been booked between Miami and Kingston, with travellers having the option of two flights per day from January to February; increasing to three times per day from February to March, then moving back to two times per day in April.
The tourism capital, Montego Bay, will get the bulk of the business, with American having some 14 flights per day on its roster. The gateways include Dallas, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia.
The US carrier's service will be bolstered by Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Frontier, and Caribbean Airlines – which will return to Montego Bay with flights out of New York – plus Delta and United.
Fort Lauderdale, Miami and New York remain among the most popular destinations, as Baltimore, Houston, Orlando, Atlanta, St Louis, Detroit and Minneapolis make up the impressive list of airports passengers will fly from into Jamaica.
“For the entire winter, we are served daily from Fort Lauderdale, from Midway in Chicago five times weekly; and from St Louis, which is also a new gateway, we have service on a Saturday. Delta continues to be our strong partner out of Atlanta that helps us to serve the Midwest daily into Kingston and four times daily into Montego Bay,” White told the mixed group of local and international journalists.
“JetBlue – another one of our partners that have grown exponentially providing service to Jamaica coming out of the pandemic – prior to the pandemic, we only had service with JetBlue out of New York and also Fort Lauderdale. We now have service from JetBlue out of Boston twice weekly; out of Fort Lauderdale three [times] daily to Kingston, and two times daily to Montego Bay; from Newark, which is a new gateway for JetBlue, five times weekly into Montego Bay,” explained White.
United Airlines has added Washington, DC, to its schedule, and Spirit has returned with service from Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando – all into Montego Bay.
One of the few charter operators in the mix, Sun Country, will provide service from Minneapolis for the months of January, February, March and April 2022.
The Canadian carriers – Air Canada, West Jet, Air Transat, Sun Wing, as well as low-cost carrier Swoop – are as aggressive, with the big push out of Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax and St John's, pretty much covering the whole gamut.
From the transatlantic, British Airways will continue its three flights from the United Kingdom to Kingston, three times per week, and has added Montego Bay to its schedule out of Gatwick.
Virgin Atlantic has emerged out of the pandemic with service out of Heathrow, said White, which is particularly significant to Jamaica, “because it gives us an opportunity to truly open up Europe with Heathrow being one of the gateway hubs out of Europe”.
This, he said, gives Jamaica connections into just about every city across Europe, for the island to access and drive tourism into the island.
The island's largest airlift partner out of Europe, TUI, will continue to serve Manchester, Birmingham and Gatwick into Jamaica, as well as Condor and Eurowings out of Frankfurt, Germany.