Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says his ministry is in discussions with key partners in Europe regarding additional airlift arrangements for visitors out of that region to Jamaica.
He was speaking at a media briefing at the ministry’s offices in New Kingston, on Tuesday (October 1).
The minister advised that German multinational travel and tourism company, TUI, is adding new flights for the summer, which are “already confirmed”, adding that “we are waiting on other confirmations with regard to flights from Manchester [England]”.
Bartlett further explained that the Manchester gateway is “very important”, consequent on that location being the principal flight hub for collapsed United Kingdom tour and travel operator, Thomas Cook.
“The largest volume of seats into the Caribbean and elsewhere in the world would come out of Manchester. So, we are excited about that prospect,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bartlett noted that the six rotation flights booked through Thomas Cook to bring 1,800 passengers from Manchester, up to the end of October, have been recouped.
He said these followed meetings between the ministry and Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) teams, led by Bartlett and Tourism Director, Donovan White, and the country’s travel and tour partners in London.
“We met with TUI, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and together we have secured all the seats that we lost, and there are discussions going on for incremental airlift for the winter and beyond. There was a small dark cloud that was hanging over Germany with Condor Airlines, but we are satisfied that Condor is back on track… so the German market will be secured,” the minister informed.
While noting that Thomas Cook’s collapse could have resulted in the potential loss for Jamaica amounting to some US$10 million and approximately 8,000 seats from Europe, Mr. Bartlett said it is, nonetheless, “an opportunity”.
“It is allowing for a realignment of airlift capacities within the Caribbean area and could very well see a better arrangement in terms of scheduled charters and legacy carriers actually coming into the region,” he said.