United States (US)-based Frontier Airlines has announced plans to increase the number of weekly flights to Jamaica, beginning November 1.
International Sales Manager, Alfredo Gonsalez, told JIS News that three new gateways will be added to the existing slate, to bring the number of destinations from which scheduled service into Montego Bay is provided, to four.
He said Frontier will commence flights from Atlanta, Georgia on November 1, Orlando, Florida on November 2, and Newark, New Jersey on December 17.
These, he indicated, will be in addition to flights from Miami, Florida to Montego Bay, which commenced in May.
Mr. Gonsalez said Frontier’s decision was based on the need identified “after two very difficult years in the travel industry”, consequent on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, “to connect [and] bring people from the US back to Jamaica [and] people from Jamaica to the US”.
He said the airlines’ leadership decided early in the pandemic to identify key potential destinations that would need to be connected, once countries globally lifted or relaxed travel restrictions, adding that “Jamaica was definitely one of them”.
“That’s why, early in the pandemic, we made the announcement that we would be flying from Miami and shortly, thereafter, we started making the other announcements [about the additional US destinations from which service would be provided]. We hope that demand continues to grow [as] we want to continue growing [our service], not seasonally but all year round,” Mr. Gonsalez added.
Frontier Airlines, which is headquartered in Denver, Colorado, USA, has a total of 15 A320 and A321 airbuses that seat 186 and 230 passengers, respectively. The entity operates in about 103 airports.
Mr. Gonsalez informed that the company provides service to several other Caribbean destinations, including the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and St. Martin.
“We will be making some announcements soon [about] flying to Antigua and Barbuda, and Aruba, as well as Belize,” he noted.
Mr. Gonsalez said the prospect of expanding service to Jamaica, particularly to Kingston, “depends on how we look at the numbers”.
Noting that it takes about 60 to 90 days to determine passenger source when a new destination/route is established, he advised that “we will do the same thing when we start the new flights to Jamaica”.
“It’s all going to be based on how the market [responds]. The pandemic has changed a lot of the dynamics… in the airline industry and we are planning differently… based on demand [and] what the customers are looking for,” he explained.
Mr. Gonsalez added that “we have followed these demands, and if Kingston is what they are asking for, then we will look in that direction”.
“So, it’s a process of really studying how the market is behaving, and since COVID-19 changed so many of these [market] patterns, we are now adjusting to come up with the right solutions,” he said, while underscoring the importance of the partnership forged between Frontier and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) in that regard.
Meanwhile, Acting Deputy Director of Tourism, Marketing, Peter Mullings, welcomed Frontier’s announcement, describing it as an “excellent development”.
“We take [comfort] in seeing an airline take confidence in our destination [and] that there is demand there,” he said.
Mr. Mullings argued that Frontier’s decision and announcement are timely and “extremely important”, noting that since Jamaica’s borders were reopened to international travel in June 2020, following a three-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “we [have been] steadily picking up on our [visitor] arrival numbers”.
“We have seen in excess of one million visitors arriving… and we continue to see those numbers grow,” he pointed out, while adding that the outlook for the upcoming winter tourist season is positive.
“The forecasting of these flights is good, and the pacing of these flights is extremely good. So, we are very confident that we will have a good season coming up,” Mr. Mullings said.
He advised that the JTB will work with Frontier, “to ensure that we are able to maximise the load factors on those flights and generate a lot of demand for the destination”.