Business

interCaribbean promoting Jamaica as a destination in Cuba

BY ALEXIS MONTEITH
Observer writer

Friday, October 18, 2019

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Jamaicans are now enjoying greater connectivity with Cuba through new flights to Havana, Cuba being offered twice a week by the Turks and Caicos Islands-based interCaribbean Airways.

The interCarribbean non-stop flights to Havana started in August of this year and beginning on the 14 of November additional non-stop flights, three times a week to Santiago de Cuba, will be added.

“We have been working for a while with the view to building our connectivity out of Jamaica,” revealed Trevor Sadler, CEO of interCaribbean Airways.

“We are beginning to see meaningful results in the numbers,” he added regarding the recent addition of these flights. “We have been promoting very heavily Jamaica as a destination in Cuba.”

Sadler explained that there has been “pent-up demand” among Cubans to visit outside destinations and that historically there are areas of relationships that began with government and medical health care, doctors and nurses who travelled between the islands. He also pointed out that the significant number of Cubans who are of Jamaican descent are happy to have this route in service.

“Culturally speaking there has been a vacuum in the opportunity for people to come together,” Sadler said.

But the interCaribbean CEO went on to highlight another very important benefit that the new flights will offer to international travellers.

“Jamaica and Cuba have signed a multi-island destination tourism agreement that had limited legs based on limited connectivity,” he informed. “The minister of tourism, Mr Bartlett, I think was certainly excited to have this new connectivity and what it does is to begin to offer connectivity to people who come to Havana from points that are not served today in terms of coming to Jamaica.”

“So you've got any number of European airlines that come into Cuba who don't have service into Jamaica and it has given those people the legs to have that two island experience,” the CEO continued.

interCaribbean Airways also offers flights from Jamaica to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and according to Sadler the route is utilised by many Jamaicans who use it as a connection to other Caribbean islands such as the Virgin Islands, Dominica and St Lucia.

“The model that we try to establish is to provide connectivity through hub points that we have,” Sadler said. “We help to try and solve one element of Caribbean travel that allows more options for connecting eastern and western Caribbean together without having to come over San Juan or come up to Miami or down to Panama. In the case of many of our Caribbean citizens who don't necessarily have a US visa, the San Juan and Miami option is no longer an option and that leaves only Panama as the other option if that is a viable option for that customer.”

The CEO says that the expansion of the company's fleet in the near future will be utilised to provide more non-stop options to Jamaica, which the airline sees as very viable.

“I would regard Jamaica as a market that has great opportunity in which we can grow,” Sadler emphasised. “It is not anywhere as large as its potential.”

Jamaica has been served by interCaribbean Airways for the past two decades and according to Sadler the airline has also been offering domestic flights between Kingston and Montego Bay for the past five years.

Meanwhile, interCaribbean will soon be facing increased competion on the Havana route, as Caribbean Airlines will start direct flights from Kingston to Cuba next month.


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