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Fly Jamaica unveils passenger load strategy; worried about drugs through CJIA

Flash back: Fly Jamaica’s Executive, Roxanne Reece and Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller.

Fly Jamaica intends to survive competition by using tourism-related events to maintain a constant passenger load, a top airline official here said Saturday.

“We are not just sitting and waiting on passengers to come to us. We are coming out there and we are offering you different events in our four destinations,” said Roxanne Reece, an executive of Fly Jamaica.

Her assurance comes against the background of numerous carriers in the past going belly-up because of price gouging by competitors, fewer passengers during low seasons coupled with high operational costs.

Reece said Fly Jamaica would be offering cooking tours, concerts, sports and other tours in Guyana, Jamaica, New York and Toronto. “It’s not just selling seats. We are selling tourism…It’s a trade off,” she told a news conference.

The Jamaica-headquartered carrier hopes that Guyanese travel to Jamaica to enjoy the beaches and Jamaicans will come to Guyana to savour the rainforest.

Fly Jamaica’s first flight to Guyana is expected to land at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) on September 26 at 11 PM.

Reece told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) on Saturday that the airline is still awaiting a response from the United States Department of Transportation (DoT) to its application for a waiver to fly direct from Georgetown to New York rather than transit Jamaica for 90 minutes.

Fly Jamaica says DOT would normally respond within 60 – 90 days but at the same time that regulatory agency does not have to respond to the request for an exemption by a Jamaican airline to fly non-stop from Georgetown to New York under the Air Commerce Act of 1926 because priority is given to US carriers She noted that concerns had been raised then about the now scrapped fuel subsidy that the Trinidad and Tobago government had been giving Caribbean Airlines. “Our application was objected to on the grounds that Caribbean (Airlines) was receiving a subsidy from their government,” she said. “It was an unfortunate incident where were linked with CAL because we were all set to start those flights in July of this year,” Reece added.

Drug trafficking

On the issue of drug trafficking through the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), the Fly Jamaica executive called for a more robust system and better paid persons to avoid being lured by quick cash. “We would obviously like to see a secure system that is more efficient and more reliable and, off course, it is all based on the salaries you pay people and the level of people that you employ and it’s unfortunate that in Guyana we have so many issues with drug smuggling,” she said.

Reece assured that Fly Jamaica would be making efforts to ensure that drugs are not placed on its flights, though admittedly “it’s going to be a very difficult job to keep on top of.”

Fly Jamaica has so far employed 40 Guyanese including two pilots including a female from Surama Village, Rupununi who regards herself as a role model for her community. The airline plans to buy an additional aircraft to serve more long-haul routes like Fort Lauderdale and Brazil next year and partner with smaller carriers like LIAT.

The airline plans to handicraft, cookbooks, telephones, SIM Cards, Top-up would be sold aboard flights.