Gov’t eyes June resumption of regular commercial flights for Jamaicans

The Jamaican Government has started discussions with various airlines for the resumption of commercial flights into the country starting in June.

The country’s Ambassador to Washington, Audrey Marks, who would be crucial to such talks, made the disclosure in a statement on Thursday.

It followed Wednesday’s Jamaica House press conference in which Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that the administration would begin to focus its efforts on getting Jamaicans home by air as of next week. This after more than 1,500 Jamaicans, who are crew members aboard several cruise ships, were repatriated over the past week.

Several thousand Jamaicans, many of whom are in the United States, have reportedly indicated that they too want to return home. Many who went on business or vacation have been stuck overseas since the government closed the country’s borders some two months ago to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the island.

A high-level team has since been established to develop plans for the gradual reopening of the economy.

“We are pleased to update that Government of Jamaica and various airlines are now in discussions for regular commercial flights to resume in June for returning Jamaicans,” Marks said.

She has advised persons with a valid ticket to travel to Jamaica in June, to “keep that booking”.

“If you do not yet have a ticket, you may await the flight schedules so you can pick a convenient travel date accordingly,” Marks added.

The ambassador said the government was using every opportunity to secure flights for persons with the most urgent situations to return home.

“As such we have secured a chartered flight which will leave Florida later this week. As previously communicated, this is a controlled re-entry process. Persons traveling on this charter must accept the terms of mandatory state quarantine,” Marks said.

As the pace of reopening the country accelerates, and with tourism interests in particular itching to resume business, the prime minister has indicated that the mandatory 14-day quarantine period will be discontinued and persons asked to instead quarantine at home.

Meanwhile, Marks has advised Jamaicans wishing to return home that the authorities will be in touch via email to provide information for them to use to book their flights. Those desirous of returning must complete the JAMCOVID Travel Authorization process.

“For persons planning to travel from ATL, JFK or BWI and persons preferring home quarantine, these protocols are being finalised and we look forward to providing another update to make your travel plans next Monday, June 1st. We thank you for your patience and understanding,” Marks concluded.