ST MARY, Jamaica- The Ian Fleming International Airport on Thursday welcomed its inaugural flight from Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The arrival of the flight signals a positive sign for intra-regional travel, which has taken a hit since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020, resulting in US$1 billion in lost revenue.
Touted to lead the way for recovery, the flight from Turks and Caicos is expected to further drive air connectivity between Jamaica and the rest of the region, a move proudly supported by the chairman of InterCaribbean Lyndon Gardiner.
"Only the sun can cover the Caribbean better than we do. We look forward to many many more happy landings," he said.
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, in welcoming the flight, said the prospects for air connectivity have been significantly heightened by the introduction of these new flights.
"Today begins a new chapter in terms of this piece of geography (Jamaica) and the rest of the world. During the recovery, we will be bringing a lot more new markets here, " he stated.
The addition of the fight from Turks and Caicos, which is scheduled to make once monthly trips before transitioning to once weekly, adds to the growing number of international flights scheduled to run out of the Ian Fleming Airport.
Earlier this year, major air carrier American Airline also said that it would, as of November 5, commence twice-weekly international flights between Miami and Ocho Rios through its Embraer-175 regional jet which can seat up to 88 passengers.
The addition of flights to the airport realises a long-standing dream of former hotelier and business mogul Gordon "Butch" Stewart, who for decades lobbied for greater use of the facility and scheduled international flights operating out of the airport.
Stewart believed that the small gateway, situated in Oracabessa, St Mary, carried the potential to open up a new wave of tourism opportunities and economic development in the northeast end of the island belted by popular tourist towns and attractions.
Minister Bartlett says the country should be using the new developments at the airport as “a game changing one for Boscobel."
Previously known as the Boscobel Aerodrome, the small airport located approximately 15 km away from the resort town of Ocho Rios is named after the famous author of the James Bond fictional series of spy novels. The facility officially became a port of entry in 2011.