A high-level delegation was on hand to greet the passengers and flight crew, presenting them with bead necklaces as gifts.
Swoop, which is owned by WestJet, will be making twice weekly flights from John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport to Sangster International through to April 24, 2019.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, who led the welcome party, noted that the flight was fully booked and included a number of Jamaican nationals.
“This is the first ultra low-cost carrier that comes out of Canada to Jamaica,” the Minister pointed out.
“What this does is … allow for more people to access Jamaica, and who otherwise could not have afforded the fares being charged by some of the traditional carriers. This will also allow more of our people living in Canada the opportunity to come home for vacations,” he said.
High Commissioner of Canada to Jamaica, Laurie Peters, who was on hand to greet the passengers, said the arrival of yet another airline out of Canada into Jamaica is proof of the special relationship between the two countries and the love and respect “we continue to receive from the Jamaican people.”
“I would like to think that it is not just our cold, dark winters that bring so much of our people here but the long-standing ties and excellent relationship we have had over the years. It is always a good sign to see these kinds of things, considering that Canada has been a long and strong aviation partner,” she noted further.
The Canadian High Commissioner said she is encouraged by the numbers she has been seeing as it relates to Canadians visiting Jamaica for Airbnb vacations, noting that “this can only get better as time goes on”.
“I think Jamaica will continue to see only strong numbers coming out of Canada. As the Minister of Tourism so boldly predicted, 500,000 by 2020 is a real possibility and something that I endorse,” she added.
Senior Advisor and Chief Strategist in the Ministry of Tourism, Delano Seiveright, noted that Jamaica continues to increase airlift into the island by working with the airlines to ensure an adequate number of seats to meet the growing demand.
He pointed to increased arrivals from the traditional markets of the United States, Canada and England, and expansion into new areas like Latin America and Eastern Europe.
Mr. Seiveright said that thousands of additional seats were negotiated for the 2018/2019 high season in December out of North America, Canada, the United Kingdom (UK) and Northern Europe.
“In addition, several new flights made their landing at the Sangster International Airport out of Eastern Europe, including Eurowings, Pegas Fly and Nordwind, as well as Canadian airlines WestJet and Sunwing. Copa Airlines increased to daily, its service between Panama City, its main hub, and Montego Bay,” he noted.
Latam Airlines Group also announced nonstop direct flights from Peru to Montego Bay beginning July 2019, and Frontier Airlines, one of the newest routes out of the United States, made its inaugural flight on November 17.
Mr. Seiveright said preliminary data show that Jamaica will welcome well over 4.3 million visitors and earn US$3.3 billion by the end of the year.
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