JIS News

In recent years, the number of European visitors arriving in the island by charter flights has continued to show a steady increase.
In the three months to the end of March this year, 40 per cent of Jamaica’s European visitors arrived via charter flights rather than regular scheduled airline flights.
Statistics from the Jamaica Tourist Board’s March 2007 report indicate that this figure was 42 per cent last year, having grown from 37 per cent the previous year. In 2003, the figure stood at 32 per cent.
The growth trend seems set to continue with charters dominating a number of Jamaica’s fastest growing European markets. For example, in the January to March 2007 period, 74 per cent of visitors from Spain arrived by charter flights, with 82 per cent from Portugal, 84 per cent from Italy, and 100 per cent from Greece.
This growth in charter flights from Europe means that fewer passengers from that market are travelling to Jamaica by regularly scheduled flights. This situation has significant negative implications for airlines such as the national airline, Air Jamaica, which now serves that market through its London route. This is one development, which would have contributed to scheduled long haul air service to Europe being unprofitable for Air Jamaica, which is reported to be losing $1.35 billion a year on its operations between Jamaica and London.
In the United Kingdom, where Air Jamaica’s recently announced code share agreement with Virgin Atlantic is to accompany the national airline’s planned withdrawal from that market in October this year, a significant 38 per cent of the passengers travelled to Jamaica by charter flights between January and March this year.
With an increasing percentage of overall arrivals from Europe travelling by charter flights and with the country’s fastest growing markets such as Spain and Portugal already delivering more than 80 per cent of visitors via such charters, the expectation is that scheduled flights will become even less important to the European tourism market in the coming years.

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