KPMG Partner Says Caribbean Carriers Are Crucial

HAMILTON, Bermuda – KPMG says that the national carriers of the Caribbean region, such as Air Jamaica, are crucial to the development of the travel and tourism industry and that they ought to seek greater control of airline services to and from the region.

Simon Townend, a partner with the global accounting firm which provides audit, tax and advisory services in 144 countries, said a healthy national carrier translates into reduced reliance on the vagaries of the international airline industry, including the whims and fancies of international carriers. “If the indigenous airlines can get it right, (Caribbean) countries will be in control of their airlift,” said Townend, who lamented that 90 percent of the airlift is external to the region.

“The situation can be very fickle … a foreign airline can pull out or go bankrupt tomorrow … it is always better for a country to have some control over its airlift,” said Townend, who did admit however that the diversity of international airlines currently plying the regional skies does provide some economic and development safeguards.

Accounting firm lauds Air Jamaica on new Caribbean service

Speaking to reporters at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference in Bermuda last month, the Bahamas-based accounting professional commended the state-run Air Jamaica for its new non-stop service to St. Lucia from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. “I think it’s fantastic. Most of the holiday vacations are short (where people) want to be able to hop on a plane … straight to where they want to go. There are a lot of people and wealth in New York so it can only be a good thing,” said Townend, who noted that Air Jamaica’s return was also good for St. Lucia, given the destination’s reliance in part on the European market.

During his presentation on banks’ perspective on Caribbean hotel and tourism financing, Townend listed the Bahamas, St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos, Barbados and Jamaica as investment hot spots in the Caribbean.

Air Jamaica senior executive George deMercado said Townend’s remarks were both prudent and timely, given Air Jamaica’s renewed focus and vision for Caribbean aviation. “We agree that Caribbean carriers must lead the way, and we at Air Jamaica are striving to continue delivering for the people of our region, and of course for our passengers and staff who have helped transform this little Caribbean airline into a world class campaigner,” he added.

Air Jamaica offers non-stop service from New York’s JFK International Airport to St. Lucia on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays, departing New York at 7:00 a.m. and arriving in St. Lucia at 11:35 a.m. On the return leg, the airline departs St. Lucia at 6:35 p.m. and arrives in New York at 11:15 p.m.

Air Jamaica provides more non-stop flights to Jamaica than any other carrier with more than 270 flights per week from Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York (JFK), Orlando, and Philadelphia in the U.S., Toronto , Canada and from London to Montego Bay and Kingston. Air Jamaica also offers non-stop service between New York (JFK) and Grenada.

Air Jamaica offers intra-regional service with flights between Jamaica and Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, Cuba, Curaçao, Grand Cayman and St. Lucia . The airline’s code share agreement with Delta Airlines, its joint fare arrangements and compatible schedules with United, and other U.S. carriers, extend its access to more than 150 cities within the Continental U.S.

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