JetBlue to increase daily flights to Jamaica despite cuts elsewhere

The seventh-largest airline in North America based on passengers carried, JetBlue Airways, is set to ramp up its number of daily flights to Jamaica.

In what is being hailed as a huge boost to Jamaica’s tourism industry, JetBlue will, by June, operate up to nine daily non-stop flights into Jamaica from New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport.

The development runs counter to JetBlue’s recent decision to cut a dozen-and-a-half routes primarily across the Caribbean and Latin America, including Barbados, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Mexico, and the US Virgin Islands.

“As part of our ongoing review of our network, this spring we’ll end service on 17 routes that have underperformed and transition a handful of markets to seasonal,” the airline noted in a media statement.

Late last week Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett argued that the boost in flights will bolster Jamaica’s tourism product as New York’s John F Kennedy (JFK) is one of the busiest international airports in the world, with many connection possibilities across the United States and other countries.

“New York is the largest city in the US, with a massive Diaspora, too, so it is also a huge boost for the visiting friends and relatives market space, which is very helpful in spurring further economic activity across the island,” said Bartlett.

The JetBlue boost follows a massive tourism markets blitz across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and beyond led by Bartlett last September and October.

He was joined by chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board John Lynch; Director of Tourism Donovan White; senior advisor and strategist in the Ministry of Tourism Delano Seiveright; and other officials.

Meetings during the US leg of the blitz included the leadership teams at American Airlines, Southwest, Expedia, Carnival Corporation, and Royal Caribbean.

“The engagements with key tourism partners in those markets were very fruitful. There were COVID-19-related concerns and we wanted to reassure tourism interests that Jamaica remains a safe destination. Our protocols are in place to ensure that visitors can come to the island, go to our attractions, and have an authentic Jamaican experience safely and seamlessly. Confidence in Jamaica remains strong,” Bartlett added.

In the meantime, Seiveright noted that JetBlue’s bolstered flights from New York is also related to the alliance between it and American Airlines.

“This is called the North-east Alliance, creating the largest flight schedule in New York and Boston. The two airlines are now offering code-share connections to nearly 600 origin and destination markets. The north-east United States is Jamaica’s biggest tourism market, so the connections into and out of JFK should be of real good benefit for the island,” said Seiveright.

He added that the Bartlett-led blitz meeting with American Airlines’ executive leadership at its Dallas, Texas, headquarters “covered a lot of ground and reinforced the importance of the relationship between them and Jamaica and their expanding footprint, occasioned by their rapidly cementing alliance with JetBlue, a very critical partner for our country’s economy”.

Bartlett is this week participating in the high-level FITUR international tourism and trade show fair in Madrid, Spain.

The event is one of the largest gatherings of tourism professionals globally, as well as the leading fair for Latin America’s receptive and issuing markets. It is also Spain’s largest tourism event, with thousands of attendees from all over the world.

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