Tapia promises to help with direct flights from US to JamaicaMonday, November 25, 2019
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
MONTEGO BAY, St James — United States Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia has promised to work assiduously with Jamaica for a direct flight between Jamaica and Phoenix, the capital of the south-western US state of Arizona.
“The open skies between the United States of America and Jamaica made it possible for American Airlines, Southwest and Delta [airlines], and JetBlue and so forth to come. This is a great occasion to know that now we have opened another gateway to your country. There is only one thing that we are missing, the one thing that we must all put our efforts towards, Mr Minister and representatives from American Airlines, what we are missing is a flight from Phoenix, Arizona. I will help you on that one,” said Ambassador Tapia to a round of applause.
The US ambassador was addressing a reception for the return of American Airlines service from John F Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York to Sangster International Airport in St James, last Thursday.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett later told the Jamaica Observer that the country had lost its direct connectivity with Phoenix and is now working hard to get it back.
“That is a very important gateway from the west. We don't have any connectivity direct now, from the west, because normally we would have come through Los Angeles and Phoenix and so on, but we lost that connectivity. But now we are working hard together to get it back...” Bartlett said.
During the reception, Bartlett noted: “The north-east region that you are flying out of now, for us is our strong performer. As a matter of fact, the summer period — May to September 2019 — from the US market, we recorded a 9.3 per cent increase in arrivals with 785,000 visitors compared to the 718,000 [visitors] last year [during the corresponding period]. And that is the US at it's best for Jamaica. As long as we grow out of the US, we will continue to dominate growing. The truth is that the north-eastern outpaced all the rest of America and grew by 13.3 per cent for Jamaica [during the same period],” stated Bartlett.
He added: “While stopover arrivals from the US also recorded an increase of 11.1 per cent for September 2019, the north-east again outperformed the national average and grew by 18.1 per cent. And this reintroduced service, therefore, will augur well for us as a destination.”
American Airlines Senior Regional Manager — Western Caribbean Wellesley Joseph noted that, “through the years, we have continued to grow our operations and expand our footprint. During the high season, we will provide more than 100 non-stop weekly flights to and from Kingston and Montego Bay, to Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Philadelphia, and now today, New York/JFK”.
Mayor of Montego Bay Homer Davis, in welcoming the service, said it will help strengthen Jamaica's growing tourism industry.
“This flight, which comes on the heels of the start of the 2019/2020 winter tourist season, is the perfect launching pad for the season, as Jamaica's arrival figures continue to increase significantly. This flight and several others which are already visiting our beautiful island and those which are waiting in the wings, will continue to boost Jamaica's already impressive arrival figures,” stated Mayor Davis, who noted that the St James Municipal Corporation will continue to support the tourism industry.
Meanwhile, Senior Advisor/Strategist Delano Seiveright told the media that the new American Airlines service comes within the frame of increased flights between the United States and Jamaica.
“There is daily non-stop Delta Airlines service between Detroit, Michigan, and Montego Bay, starting December of this year. Jamaica has also been benefiting from several other new flight services, including new non-stop flights between Dallas, Texas, and Montego Bay by Sun Country Airlines; St Louis and Montego Bay by Southwest Airlines; and increased frequency of flights into both Kingston and Montego Bay by JetBlue and Delta Airlines,” he said.
The 93-year-old American Airlines, which is the largest carrier of visitors to Jamaica, offers its 200-million annual customers 6,800 daily flights to more than 365 destinations in 61 countries from its hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Washington, DC.