Over 1 million seats secured for winter tourist season
BY INGRID BROWN Associate Editor - Special Assignment firstname.lastname@example.org
Over one million air seats have been secured for this tourism winter season which begins today (December 15) through to the end of April, according to Director of Tourism John Lynch.
This, according to Lynch, is 40,000 more seats than what was secured for the last winter tourist season and ample amount for meeting the targeted number of visitors that the island is preparing to welcome.
"All the fundamentals are in for a great winter, and also as we move into the spring and the summer," Lynch said, adding "what we have to do is now work on the Fall because that is always a challenge."
Lynch, who provided an update on the available airlift for the season at the Sunday Observer's Press Club last Thursday, said that a number of airlines will be increasing their flights to the island for the winter season and beyond.
The United Kingdom-based British Airways, he said, will start a fourth flight from Gatwick International Airport into Kingston beginning next May, while Thomas Cook Airlines, which operated fortnightly only for this summer, will now be offering weekly flights all year round.
Two years ago, AirTran Airways, which is a major carrier of passengers to Jamaica, was acquired by the massive US domestic carrier Southwest Airlines.
"We will begin to see the Southwest tails in Jamaica starting about May," Lynch announced.
Jetblue, which now flies out of Fort Lauderdale into Kingston, according to Lynch, has also decided to introduce a service from that US gateway into the resort city of Montego Bay.
Lynch said that the Old Beaches Sandy Bay, which was recently acquired by Karisma Hotels and Resorts, is Tui's top product and the reason for them putting on a fifth dreamliner aircraft to Jamaica. This, he said, will go to a segment of the market that Jamaica has never gone to before.
A recent news release stated that Karisma Hotels & Resorts --operator of 13 all-inclusive hotels and resorts in Riviera Maya, Mexico, and Negril, Jamaica -- recently signed a strategic partnership with Tui Travel.
With the recent merger of American Airlines and US Airways, Lynch said that it is not yet clear what this will mean for Jamaica, as both airlines fly out of a combined five US gateways - namely Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Philadelphia and Charlotte - into Jamaica.
Air Canada, Lynch said, has come back strongly with its luxury carrier, Rouge.
As a result, Lynch said that Jamaica is anticipating "a good winter from that market."
"Our capacity in the winter in terms of new investment, the product that excites the tour operators and the airlines to put on extra capacity ... that is where we need to go and our focus now is on the capacity to grow," he said.