BACKGROUNDAt a time when the aviation industry is in turmoil, and destinations are faced with flight reductions, Jamaica has entered an agreement with the US legacy carrier American Airlines, to guarantee well over 2,000 additional seats per week to the island.
This deal comes ahead of the start of the 2008/2009 winter tourist season and at a time when the Caribbean is experiencing severe cutbacks in airlift. It should also be noted that under the arrangement, the government is NOT paying out US$4.5 million to American Airlines, but has ONLY provided a guarantee for additional seats which I am confident will be filled.
Deal Not Unique To Jamaica
As all of our neighbours were aware that the Caribbean was one of the regions marked by American Airlines for reduction in air service to begin in September 2008, we find that many of them have similar arrangements with American Airlines. Thus Jamaica is not the only country with this arrangement. Indeed seven of our regional counterparts (who will remain nameless for obvious reasons) who saw the value of AA service, its frequent flyer mileage clients, its connection across the USA, with Europe and emerging markets in the Far East, have entered into similar arrangements with American Airlines. Other Caribbean destinations are also currently discussing applying this well-established practice to secure their winter airlift.
For many years, JamVac has used this and similar mechanisms to attract airlift to Jamaica and open up new gateways. Over time business models have changed, and many of the charters now flying to Jamaica have functioned in ways very similar to the American Airlines plan. That is to say, charters now fly regular schedules to Jamaica and are subject to various no-fly agreements. Thus, the time has come for JamVac to adopt this new paradigm, if Jamaica is to compete effectively and maintain its leadership position in Caribbean tourism.
The chart below outlines the air seats provided by American Airlines in winter 2008, and what is confirmed for 2009.
Route 2009 2008 Diff MIA/MBJ 62,880 58,610

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