Bartlett says Thomas Cook airline seats fully recovered

Monday, September 30, 2019

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Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says that Jamaica is the first country to have recovered from lost airlift seating problems, following last week Sunday's collapse of United Kingdom-based packaged holidays firm Thomas Cook which flies a significant number of visitors to the island from Manchester, England.

According to the minister, efforts by the Jamaica Tourist Board, Jamaica Vacations Limited, as well as his own intervention enabled Jamaica to recover the lost seats within 48 hours of the collapse.

The minister, who travelled to Europe for Jamaica Travel Market and related promotional events, also noted that all partners responded positively to Jamaica and that the ministry is projecting an increase in flights from the region for the upcoming winter season.

“I am pleased to announce that Jamaica has completed our rescue mission in terms of the fallout from the Thomas Cook collapse. We have met today with all our key partners, our three major airlines – TUI, Virgin, and British Airways, and we have completely restored all the seats that would have been lost for the period, and we are expecting additional arrivals for the winter,” he said.

Bartlett indicated that there were no complaints of Thomas Cook customers being thrown out of hotels after the collapse, as a meeting with the UK high commissioner to Kingston helped to keep the transfer virtually seamless. He said, too, that unlike in several countries, the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority did not have to foot the bill for the passengers who were forced to overstay.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, the minister stated that Thomas Cook had been expected to fly 16 charters to Jamaica between now and March 2020. Those charters represent 7,300 visitors to Jamaica and a potential loss of US$10 million in tourism spend.

“The fallout that we expect will be minimal in terms of the six rotations that are immediate. The way we look at it is that they will be rebooking with some of the other carriers like Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, and so on. That would minimise that fallout, so instead of the 1,800, we could recoup about 900,” Bartlett said.

The minister is expected to present a full report on his engagements in London when he returns to the island today.

Thomas Cook UK announced its compulsory liquidation last week Sunday, explaining that it is now under the control of an official receiver. The business ceased trading with immediate effect and all future flights and holidays were cancelled, severely affecting several flights between Manchester, England, and Montego Bay, Jamaica.

A special operation,Operation Matterhorn, was started last week as a giant effort to repatriate 150,000 Britons to the UK after the collapse of the firm.


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