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May 20, 2003

Air Jamaica suspends Belize route

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The news did not exactly come as a surprise, but today’s announcement by Air Jamaica that it will suspend its service to Belize is the first hint of negativity in a year that has thus far seen nothing but positive trends in the tourism industry. The last Air Jamaica flight will depart the P.G.I.A. on June first. Since inaugurating four times a week service on November twenty-first of last year, the passenger load never did reach critical mass. The Belize City-Montego Bay flight could not survive on its own and was always intended as a feeder for Air Jamaica’s longer and more lucrative tourist routes to and from North America, particularly the heavily populated east coast of the United States. The plan was a good one, but it ran head on into a similar strategy implemented by U.S. Air, using its Charlotte, North Carolina hub to funnel passengers from those same east coast cities to Belize. In the end only one airline could survive and, in today’s depressed market for international air travel, it was Air Jamaica that decided to bail out. Ironically, the silver lining for Air Jamaica’s departure is that the remaining carriers: U.S. Air, American, Continental and TACA, should see their business solidify and be in a better position to add capacity for improved long term service to Belize. In the end the only real losers will be those travellers who, for the first time, could visit Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean without having to endure the time, expense and visa requirements of passing through Miami.

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