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Dec 15, 2017

Christmas from Canada; new flight touches down at P.G.I.A.

A landing as much as five years in the making happened this afternoon at the Philip Goldson International Airport. Canada’s flag-carrier, Air Canada, made the first of its twice-weekly flights between Canada’s largest city, Toronto, and Belize’s largest, Belize City, by way of Ladyville. The two countries are the only English-speaking Commonwealth countries on the North American mainland, and a healthy number of Canadians, about four thousand, have made Belize their home. The countries have also other links of cooperation, but this one made through the friendly skies, as Aaron Humes reports, has the potential to make much difference for both.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

The smiles on their faces said it all: even with gray skies and cool temperatures, there’s nothing like getting away on vacation from the frozen north in December. These passengers are the first to touch down in Belize courtesy of the world’s eighth largest airline, Air Canada, which began service to Belize today from Toronto, Ontario’s Pearson International Airport. C.E.O. of the PGIA’s management company, Belize Airport Concession Company Limited, Jorge Espat, offered the first welcome.


Jorge Espat, C.E.O., Belize Airport Concession Company Limited

Jorge Espat

“Because of Air Canada, Belize now has more non-stop international destinations, providing more jobs and more opportunities to Belizeans. Air Canada is a top employer; Air Canada enjoys a four-star ranking, and Air Canada has been voted best airline in North America. Today, Belize gets to welcome the iconic maple leaf on Air Canada’s Airbus 319. Belizegets to showcase, in exchange, our world-class product; Air Canada gets to fly into Belize a world-class fleet and crew; Belize gets to build a national brand with even greater recognition.”


And Air Canada’s country manager was equally pleased to establish service here.


Reyna Nieto

Reyna Nieto, Country Manager, Air Canada

“I’m really, really happy about this warm welcome that Belize [gave] to Air Canada. Personally, I am very happy to be here, and enjoy the warmth of the people and this beautiful country. I am very happy that our Canadian people, and the rest of the world, will be able to visit this beautiful place. Thank you very much on behalf of Air Canada.”


Tourism Minister Manuel Heredia Junior is looking forward to an increase in Belize’s already healthy tourism numbers, but he notes that the connection is two-way. He also pointed out that the non-stop connection is important to visitors to the Jewel.


Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“What will happen now, is that definitely sure, the number of passengers to this destination will increase. Air Canada, if you heard Mr. Jorge Espat, is a very large international airline and it has connections in 190 countries. So we are looking that some of those passengers will be hearing about Belize and coming over here. Also, our students will have a better opportunity; the business community that had trouble passing through the U.S. into Belize will have now an easier communication directly between Canada and Belize. We have been working with those airlines for a while, making sure that they don’t have to go through that Miami stop. A lot of people that want to come to Belize, they are so wrroeied about having to stop or overnight in Miami; today, we have the opportunity through WestJet and Air Canada that you can come directly to Belize in a very short time and you can enjoy more hours of your trip. “


Both sides are hoping that this December, this newest link between Canada and Belize will be the gift that keeps on giving. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.


Air Canada joins the already established WestJet flight from the western Canadian city of Calgary. Early next year according to Tourism Minister Heredia, there are plans to add the low-cost JetBlue carrier to the PGIA’s expanding list of flight partners.


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