On Thursday (July 1), Jamaica welcomed a new air service to Kingston with the launch of the inaugural Jet Air Caribbean flight from Curaçao International Airport to the Norman Manley International Airport.
The new service offers direct, round-trip flights. It operates every Thursday. Flights depart at 2:55 p.m. and arrive at 3:55 p.m.
Director of Tourism, Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), Donovan White, told JIS News that the introduction of the route forms part of efforts to diversify and strengthen Jamaica’s tourism product.
“It absolutely is part of our push to continually expand our source markets. The Curaçao and, indeed, the ABC islands (Leeward Antilles) of the Dutch Caribbean, is no stranger to Jamaica. We have always had an air-traffic arrangement between the Dutch islands, and so this is the restart of what we hope is the continuation of bringing more people form the ABC islands to Jamaica and, obviously, Jamaica going to the ABC islands has been a historic one,” he said.
Mr. White noted also that even as the JTB continues its thrust to strengthen the Jamaican tourism industry, which has been severely impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the JTB continues to observe and promote strict adherence to the Disaster Risk Management Orders, as well as the COVID-19 safety protocols, even as it seeks to expand Jamaica’s tourism markets.
“Now that the Disaster Risk Management Orders have changed somewhat to allow for more time for movement and to allow for vaccinated passengers coming into Jamaica to move about freely once they have done a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival, those are measures that allow us to function with a little bit more room, but we also have to be cautious because we are still in a pandemic. The virus has not gone anywhere,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer of Norman Manley International Airport, Fernando Vistrain, said emphasis is being placed on establishing new routes to recover pre- pandemic numbers of passengers and to identify “new possibilities for Norman Manley International Airport”, “Currently, we are 70 per cent less than we used to have in terms of passenger numbers in comparison to 2019. With this new flight and with the new orders from the Government of Jamaica, we believe that in the next three months, we are going to see an important increase,” he said.
Captain of the flight, Jeroen van Schuppen, who said the inaugural flight transported 28 passengers to Kingston, expressed optimism that it is the beginning of the recovery process for the global airline industry.
“It was busy at the airport today. I have not seen that in a long time. It is slowly but surely starting to pick up again. It has been very quiet for a year now and we are all very glad it is going the way it is going right now. Hopefully, it will be back to normal soon,” he said.