TOURISM Minister Edmund Bartlett's vision of an "affordable and timely air service" within the Caribbean region got a huge boost on Monday with the inaugural landing of the Dominican Republic's new flagship airline, Arajet, at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.
"It's a dream that we have had," Bartlett said, welcoming the effort of Arajet Airline's CEO Victor Pacheco in enabling the linkage between Jamaica and other Caribbean countries "with an affordable and timely air service", in a message to the event.
The jet landed on a nonstop trip between Santo Domingo and Kingston, which are now linked by the direct nonstop air service between the two cities.
"For us, this is not just a game changer, this is a Red Letter Day in the life of tourism aviation in the northern Caribbean, because we in the north are close to each other physically and geographically, but we are distant from each other," Bartlett noted.
Bartlett explained that the decision to enable improved connectivity between Jamaica and the Dominican Republic "is part of a broader and wider strategy of integrating the Caribbean more, and of also creating backwards connections between Central America and South America".
According to him, the decision to improve the connectivity between the two countries, "is part of a broader, wider strategy of integrating the Caribbean more, as well as to create backward connections between Central and South America".
"We have been working at bedding that market for the last 15 years," he pointed out, noting that other airlines are also engaged in the discussions.
He said that the arrival of the Arajet Airline to Jamaica is "a real milestone achievement of air connectivity", and added that the importance of the event was "the fulfilment of the hope of what true multi-destination tourism is all about".
He said that one of the real positives that will flow from the engagement is that it will bring to respective destinations in the region enough energy for investments, because of the ease of access.
"But, but the key to the realisation is that, within two hours, you can be looking at your asset, making decisions not virtually but face to face, and surveying the extent of your own investments and assets in these areas," he added.
Dominican Republic's Ambassador to Jamaica Angie Martinez Tejera, speaking from a viral platform, credited Bartlett's vision as the correct one, and implored him to continue promoting the concept as the only way "to truly democratic air travel".
She said that the service being offered will be very important to the growth of tourism in the region.
Arajet was the first airline in Latin America to launch brand new and technologically advanced airplanes like the MAX which carries 40 per cent less pollution, increased fuel efficiency and significantly reduced emission of carbon dioxide. The airline plans to launch 54 more routes out of the Dominican Republic, and will be subsequently adding to that in the next 30 years.
"We will be in the middle of the biggest air traffic growth that the world has seen, and we need to take advantage of it," he emphasised.