Turks airline starts with 16 weekly Kingston to MoBay flights
TURKS & Caicos-based airline InterCaribbean Airways will offer 16 domestic flights weekly from Kingston to Montego Bay at an introductory rate nearly half the price of large carrier Caribbean Airlines.
The airline will offer the service starting mid-month for as low as US$29 ($3,200) one way plus taxes, which push total price to some US$36 ($4,000). Passengers pay stamp fees at both airports and a passenger fee which account for some 25 per cent of the ticket price.
The airline's site allowed the Business Observer to book flights at some US$37 plus taxes one way. While Caribbean Airways allowed booking at US$61 one way.
These new flights from Montego Bay to Kingston provide onward service to Providenciales, Grand Turk, Santo Domingo and San Juan, making connections across the wider Caribbean a reality.
The flights are operated by 30-seat, Embraer 120 aircraft. The service will offer increased international connectivity.
"For the leisure traveller arriving on a long-haul flight from Europe, this new connection will give added peace of mind, to quickly transfer to or from Montego Bay or Kingston," said a press release issued on behalf of the company. "North American travellers too, can take their favourite airline in one city and conveniently return from another."
John Lynch, Jamaica's director of tourism added: "The service will be particularly helpful for travellers from the UK and Europe as there will be a seamless connection to get them into either city. Passengers on airlines like Southwest, which do not fly into Kingston, will also be facilitated".
The Kingston-Montego Bay route would connect the island's two cities within 30 minutes by air. However, the service suffers from thin margins, escalating fuel costs and cheaper ground competition via Knutsford Express.
Jamaica Air Shuttle and Skylan Air in recent times offered similar service but are now inoperative. Other carriers offering the service via sheduled or charter service include Caribbean Airlines, TimAir, Airways Limited and Caribbean Aviation Training Centre.
Alfred McDonald, senior director of commercial development and planning, Norman Manley International Airport Limited, said the new service by InterCaribbean is timely. He added that passengers travelling to Jamaica on airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will benefit.
Trevor Sadler, CEO of InterCaribbean Airways, said the introduction of these new services and their international connections, is the culmination of years of effort by Chairman Lyndon Gardiner.
"It is his belief that this connectivity is not just possible, but necessary to support a greater Caribbean economy, and with the support of Jamaica and the business community, we are now about to realise the next step in the growth of the company," said the release about Sadler.
InterCaribbean, formerly Air Turks & Caicos, rebranded late last year with a new colour scheme for the planes' livery.
Gardiner, a former banker, started the company in his 20s, financed with loans to initially secure his pilot's licence, then another to finance the acquisition of a Cessna Skyhawk. He offered chartered services before expanding to scheduled international services. The airline operates six turboprop aircraft with another six in various stages of maintenance.
Earlier this year, the airline announced plans to connect Jamaica with the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico starting this month. It is rare for airlines to connect the Anglophone and Latin Caribbean based on historic cultural and economic barriers.