Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, welcomed 320 passengers of the Russian flight, Transaero Airlines, as it made its inaugural trip to Jamaica, landing at the Sangster International Airport, in Montego Bay, on January 1.
He was accompanied by Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Glendon Harris and other officials from the Ministry and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).
“Today is truly a historic day for Jamaica’s tourism as we welcome the inaugural Transaero Airlines flight from Moscow. As we usher in a new year, we are witnessing the opening up of a new gateway to a new market for Jamaica, that will allow thousands of Russian nationals to enjoy a Jamaican vacation,” the Minister said at the welcoming ceremony.
He pointed out that the airline will be making regular flights to Jamaica until the end of 2013, and that this is part of the “tremendous effort” of his Ministry and related agencies and groups to boost airlifts and open up new markets.
"Airlift is critical to the survival of the tourism industry of an island state, such as Jamaica. The Transaero Boeing 777 aircraft with its full crew and passenger load has brought together two worlds and two cultures. Today, the world got smaller for some 320 passengers and crew members and we welcome them warmly to our country. Tourism allows for the exchange of cultures and the sharing of ideas, which create a unity across borders,” Dr. McNeill said.
The Minister said he is very optimistic that the Russian market will provide significant returns, as the minimum stay by visitors from that market is ten nights, which is twice the average stay of visitors from traditional markets.
Transaero flies to 40 countries on 130 routes and has hubs in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. They operate flights between Moscow and Belorussia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. They also operate flights out of other countries, such as Austria, Cyprus and Greece.
The airline will be operating these charter flights (to Jamaica), in partnership with tour operator, Biblio Globus.
Passengers of the inaugural flight were presented with gifts and souvenirs, while enjoying the melodic sounds of a local Mento band. The first passenger to disembark as well as the Captain and all crew members received special gift packages.