Copa Airlines resumed service to Jamaica on Monday (December 7) with a flight from Tocumen Airport in Panama City, Panama, arriving at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay with some 98 passengers and seven crew members on board.
It was the airline’s first flight to the island, following the closure of the country’s borders earlier this year as part of measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) Regional Director, Odette Dyer, in her remarks at a press briefing shortly after the flight landed, welcomed the boost to tourism that will be created by the return of Copa.
She noted that the resumption will also strengthen the JTB’s efforts to get into the Latin American market. COPA Airlines services more than 80 gateways in Latin America.
“This arrival today is significant because it gives us hope that Jamaica will rebound, our tourism industry will rebound in short order. It inspires us at the JTB to continue doing the work that we do, which is to market destination Jamaica so that we remain the premier tourism destination in the Caribbean,” she added.
For her part, Statistics and Air Service Development Analyst at MBJ Airports Limited, Nadia Anglin-Nolan, informed that the carrier will operate one flight per week on Mondays, arriving at 12:35 p.m. and departing 1:35 p.m.
“We are hopeful that we will see an increase in the number of weekly flights from the airline. As you know, a lot of airlines are just resuming [flights to Jamaica] and they have to really gauge the demand and then increase the service in response to what the market is really articulating,” she said.
Mrs. Anglin-Nolan noted that some 56 passengers were confirmed for the outgoing Copa Airlines flight that afternoon.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association’s (JHTA) Montego Bay Chapter, Nadine Spence, noted that stakeholders in the tourism sector are excited to see airlines resuming flights to the island.
“The majority of the airlines are in a wait-and-see position [so] for those who have set deadlines and stayed true to those deadlines, we are truly happy. Today, Copa has shown that they believe in Jamaica, they believe in the brand. In speaking to the crew, they said they were elated to come back to Jamaica; they like the people; they like the location,” Ms. Spence said.
The island’s borders were closed to incoming travellers in March due to COVID-19 and reopened in June.