KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Tourist boards responded to news of Air Jamaicas temporary suspension of its flights from New York (Kennedy) to Barbados, Grenada and St. Lucia with news of their own on the impact the flight cancellations will have. According to Air Jamaica, the flights will resume April 16.

Air Jamaica had previously provided 12 flights per week between the U.S. and St. Lucia -- six flights each from Kennedy via Barbados or Grenada and six flights via its Montego Bay hub.

Peter Hilary Modeste, director of tourism for the St. Lucia Tourist Board, said that US Airways already had announced in February that it is adding a weekly Saturday flight from Charlotte, N.C., in addition to its two weekly flights from Philadelphia.

In addition, Delta reconfirmed an earlier December announcement that it would increase its schedule out of Atlanta from two flights per week to five weekday flights, beginning April 1.

Currently, American has daily service from the U.S. to St. Lucia, and Modeste said that talks are underway with Continental to begin air service.


Bill Silvermintz, vice president of marketing, the Americas, for the Barbados Tourism Authority, said Air Jamaica had four weekly flights to Barbados from Kennedy and four weekly flights via the Montego Bay hub.

We did a market analysis and feel that our one market that is impacted is Atlanta, because there is not a lot of mature airlift out of that gateway, Silvermintz said. Travelers can fly to Charlotte and pick up the new US Airways weekly flight, and we will explore other possibilities as well.


Grenadas minister of tourism Brenda Hood said that Air Jamaica will be sorely missed.

The carrier had four weekly flights from Kennedy to Grenada and four via Montego Bay.

However, with occupancies still down because of Hurricane Ivan, Hood said the island could handle the situation for a short period.

In the meantime, Air Jamaica will continue to operate flights to its nine remaining Caribbean destinations -- Jamaica (Kingston and Montego Bay), the Bahamas, Bonaire, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, the Cayman Islands, Haiti, and Turks and Caicos -- as well as its 13 gateways in North America and Europe.

The suspended flights were canceled due to a shortage of available aircraft caused by the carriers Quality Assurance Check Program, initiated in early February.

At that time, the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority mandated that the airline immediately reduce the maintenance cycle on its aircraft from 18 months to 15 months, following a December 2004 instruction from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

The shorter maintenance cycle resulted in the temporary removal of five aircraft from Air Jamaicas fleet, according to a spokesman.

We will be back up to our fleet of 15 Airbus aircraft by April 16, he said.

Air Jamaica reservations staff is helping to reaccommodate passengers on other carriers and has waived cancellation penalties to the three destinations affected through April 15.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Gay Nagle Myers at [email protected].


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