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Jamaica gets more air seats for summer

Published:Monday | June 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM

WESTERN BUREAU:

Jamaica's tourism sector is poised to get a boost out of the United States (US) this summer, with 1.3 million air seats available, an increase of 119,000 seats more than the same period last year.

The country will also have a robust number of seats out of its two other source markets, the United Kingdom and Canada, which are both showing increases in air seats of 11 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively, noted outgoing Director of Tourism John Lynch.

Lynch, in his final speech as director, credited the legacy, as well as new carriers who operate effective 'hub and spoke' networks that feeds into Jamaica via their US gateways, for the positive forecast.

He was addressing tourism stakeholders at the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association annual general meeting at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel last Saturday.

LEAVING SATISFIED

"I am leaving the industry feeling satisfied that a lot of work has been done in maintaining our market," he told the gathering, urging them to set their sights firmly on reaching the four millionth stopover mark with the renewed interest from investors.

"We can do it, it is achievable, and will require strong partnerships," he emphasised, noting that with the advent of Southwest Airlines, which will fly 36 flights per week into the Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay, the projected seat count was a 10 per cent increase over last summer.

Southwest, he said, will begin service to Jamaica as of July 1, providing two flights per day from Baltimore, one daily Atlanta flight and one from Orlando, plus an extra on Saturdays.

"Interestingly, the Orlando flight connects to 39 US cities," he noted, adding that by November there will be daily flights from Chicago Midway.

SERVICE PROVIDERS

Currently, 11 airlines provide service to Jamaica from the US. Two of those carriers, Fly Jamaica and Caribbean Airlines, operate from regional diaspora gateways. JetBlue, the ever-expanding regional carrier, offers point-to-point travel and strong brand loyalty, he told the stakeholders.

In the case of Canada, which had become a concern for the sector, he said he was proud to announce that of the seven airlines providing service to Jamaica for the summer, there would be a total of 41 flights per week, from Air Canada, Sunwing, WestJet, Caribbean Airlines and Fly Jamaica.

"This augurs well for us welcoming more visitors from Canada," he concluded.

Lynch served as tourism director for five and half years. May 31 was his final day at the helm of the JTB.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com