Caribbean Airlines sees drop in passengers, Fly Jamaica grows

Wednesday, May 07, 2014    

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CARIBBEAN Airlines (CAL) recorded a one-third drop in passengers since last year amid the growth in privately owned Fly Jamaica, according to official data on Jamaica's airports.

The decline reflects a reduction in its CAL flights, but also in reduced activity at the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA), stated the Planning Institute of Jamaica in its annual Economic and Social Survey Jamaica (ESSJ) 2013.

"The reduction in flight frequency by CAL on a number of its major routes, starting in April 2013," said the ESSJ, which added other overseas airlines Jet Blue and Cayman Airways reduced flights whilst Virgin Atlantic ceased flights into Kingston. "For the July-September 2013 quarter, CAL, which accounts for 40 per cent of traffic at the NMIA, posted a 36 per cent decline in passengers."

In 2010, the Government of Jamaica sold the cash-strapped national carrier Air Jamaica to CAL in a deal of give-and-take that effectively resulted in the Jamaica Government owning 16 per cent of CAL.

The airline initially operated as two brands but shortly thereafter staff and route rationalisation occurred along with the removal of the Air Jamaica livery from the planes.

In 2013, however, Fly Jamaica owned jointly by Guyana and Jamaican interests led by captain Paul Ronald Reece and captain Lloyd Tai began operating a single aircraft between Jamaica, Guyana and New York, USA.

Despite the new entrant passenger traffic at NMIA declined seven per cent year on year to 1.3 million passengers.

"The 28.7 per cent growth recorded by the intransit category, which reflected the contribution, in the main, of Fly Jamaica with its John F Kennedy (JFK)-Kingston-Guyana and Guyana-Kingston-JFK routes, was insufficient to stem the overall reduction," stated the just released ESSJ.

Last month, the Turks and Caicos-based airline InterCaribbean Airways began offering expanded regional and cross-country service.

It's the latest airline to attempt to offer connectivity to Kingston and Montego Bay following the cessation of Jamaica Air Shuttle and Skylan Air.

Other carriers offering the service via scheduled or charter service include Caribbean Airlines, TimAir, Airways Limited and Caribbean Aviation Training Centre.

Total passenger movements at the island's international airports grew marginaly more year on year to 4.86 million or about 2,000 more than a year earlier, data indicates.

"The overall higher passenger movement was supported by the improvement in traffic volumes at the Sangster International Airport (SIA) in contrast to the fall-off recorded at the NMIA and the Ian Flemming International Airport (IFIA)," stated the ESSJ.

Passenger traffic at the SIA expanded by 3.1 per cent to 3.48 million aided by the addition of new flights by European-based airlines including Condor Airline from Germany, Transaero from Russia; Thomson Airlines from the UK and Scandinavian Airlines from Sweden.





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