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Not by chance is Ja first destination for Air Canada rouge flight

Tourism minister McNeill says new airline will compensate for recent shortfall in seats

BY DESMOND ALLEN Executive Editor — Operations allend@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, July 08, 2013    

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JAMAICA has further cemented itself as the preferred tourist destination for Canadians, with the historic choice of Kingston for the inaugural flight of Air Canada rouge, the new leisure carrier powered by Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations.

"We are delighted that Jamaica has gone down in the record books today as the very first destination flown by Air Canada rouge," said Michael Friisdahl, president and chief executive officer of Air Canada Leisure Group, shortly after the aircraft touched down at the Norman Manley International Airport on July 1, 2013.

"It is not by chance. We chose Jamaica in recognition of the tremendous partnership between our two countries. Today Air Canada offers more than 200,00 thousand seats each year between Jamaica and Canada," said Friisdahl.

Jamaica's Minister of Tourism Dr Wykeham McNeill was a happy man, as he welcomed the inaugural flight, declaring that it was of great significance that Air Canada's leisure carrier, rouge, had selected Jamaica in identifying its first international destination.

"Air Canada's relationship with Jamaica is decades-long and it has been enormously beneficial to our tourism industry. For years, growth in arrivals out of Canada has been so robust as to move that country into number two position among our source markets." McNeill said.

But he noted that factors beyond Jamaica's control had reduced airlift between Canada and Jamaica in recent times by 40,000 seats, threatening the island's ability to sustain the rate of growth to which it had become accustomed.

"Now that rouge is flying to Kingston, when it inaugurates service to Montego Bay in November Air Canada will have increased its capacity to Jamaica by 35 per cent overall, thus more than compensating for the shortfall from that market. These developments are creating a very positive outlook for our visitor arrivals out of Canada," the minister chirped.

Air Canada rouge's July 1 start-up fleet consisted of two Airbus A319 aircraft and two Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, which the company said would grow to 10 aircraft by the end of 2013, with the addition of six Airbus A319 aircraft by December 2013, and an additional four Airbus A319 aircraft by March 2014, for a total of 14 aircraft by the end of the 2013-2014 winter season.

A number of popular holiday destinations currently served by Air Canada's mainline carrier will be converted to Air Canada rouge service on a phased basis, beginning October 2013 through March 2014 as additional aircraft are released by the mainline airline for operation by

its leisure carrier, the company said.

Air Canada rouge will operate flights to Mexico, the United States and the Caribbean including Jamaica, Grenada, St Kitts, Grand Exuma, Bahamas, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles and La Romana, Dominican Republic. This is in addition to Air Canada rouge service commencing with its summer 2013 schedule on July 1 from Toronto year-round to 10 Caribbean and Central America destinations.

The Toronto-Montego Bay flights will be operated with Boeing 767-300ER aircraft that feature a two-cabin configuration with three customer comfort options including rouge, rouge Plus with preferred seating with additional legroom, and, beginning in winter 2013, Premium rouge offering both additional room and enhanced service.

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