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InterCaribbean Airways has broadened its services to facilitate optimal regional travel with its inaugural flight from Barbados to Jamaica as the company celebrated its 32nd anniversary of operations.
It was a ‘momentous occasion’ and a wonderful experience as regional media personnel mingled with airline officials, staffers, and other major stakeholders in the industry—for what was termed the ‘Irie Flight’ in commemoration of the birthday of musical legend Bob Marley.
From the hearty welcome extended at the Norman Manley International Airport in Jamaica and continuing through the two-day promotional flight schedule –InterCaribbean Airways set out to leave an ineligible imprint on inter-regional travel.
The regional airline aims to extend its network to various regional destinations.
Its schedule includes approximately 60 to 80 flights daily and accommodates over 20,000 passengers per day.
“Direct non-stop routes are always popular with travelers and will extend the outreach with this new route,” said Fernando Vistrain, CEO of PAC Kingston Airport Ltd., at the media launch on Tuesday in Kingston.
“There are so many reasons that people travel in the region, be it for work, for school, for cricket, carnival and other events to see family and friends,” he added.
Vistrain is optimistic that this new venture will provide “greater opportunity for Jamaica and the wider Caribbean …and make regional travel that much easier.”
He said the additional routes will enhance economic activity for Kingston as a popular travel hub, as the airport is set to undergo major upgrades.
Speaking on behalf of the Airport Authority of Jamaica, Richard Gibbs noted: “Today, marks a significant milestone…of direct air service to these two islands, bringing our Caribbean family closer together”.
“As InterCaribbean Airways begins its direct services to Jamaica, we are confident that our travelers …will experience the warm hospitality and rich cultural heritage that our island is renowned for,” he said.
“This inaugural flight is not just a journey across the Caribbean; it is a bridge connecting people, cultures, and economies, symbolizing our shared vision for a more connected Caribbean where the beauty, diversity, and synergy throughout our region can be more easily explored and appreciated by all,” Gibbs declared.
He said InterCaribbean Airways will offer travelers new routes, underscoring the carrier’s commitment to enhancing regional connectivity and offering passengers more travel options and convenience.
Notably, this latest venture is seen as critical for tertiary students traveling from Barbados to Jamaica, some of whom were part of the group on the inaugural flight.
Dr. Jeanese Badenock, Dean of the Faculty of Science, UWI Cave Hill Campus, Barbados, described the venture as a “historic landmark” that underscores “the significance of regional connectivity and collaboration”.
She noted that the “new route holds special significance for the university” as it connects students across the two campuses.
“It will provide both students and staff with a direct access pathway much-needed to truly realise the goal of true Caribbean integration,” said Dr. Badenock.
“The University of the West Indies remains committed to advancing education, fostering innovation and driving sustainable development throughout the Caribbean,” she added.
“Through our partnership with InterCaribbean Airways we are dedicated to enhancing regional connectivity, supporting the Caribbean Aviation sector, fostering academic collaboration, development of the workforce …and thought leadership,” Dr. Badenock said.
The UWI dean added, “May this inaugural flight stand as a symbol of hope, progress, and prosperity, and may it inspire us to dream bigger, aim higher, and reach new heights.”
Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., Director for the Caribbean Graham Clarke described the occasion as a “historic landmark being created by InterCaribbean”.
He said the occasion marks “a significant development, not just for Jamaica and Barbados…but for enhancing regional travel in the Caribbean”.
“Their commitment to expanding their network underscores their understanding of the need of Caribbean travelers,” said Clarke.
In the context of connectivity, he added, “This route offers new options to travelers …and increasing our connectivity encourages tourism growth with an exchange that promotes economic growth for our respective islands and ultimately for the whole Caribbean.”
Regarding the cost factor, Clarke stated, “This direct, convenient connection eliminates the need for stay-overs, saving time, hassle …and money for passengers”.
“More flights will mean greater flexibility …and this route will also help with facilitating and promoting cultural understanding and collaboration among us as Caribbean people,” he added.
He said it was “a new era in Caribbean travel” and that this avenue provides added opportunities for the Caribbean traveler and “fosters new connections as a Caribbean people.”
Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Barlett in his speech read by Odette Dyer, Regional Director, Jamaica Tourist Board, noted, “Today is a true testament of the confidence our airline partners have in the destination, and we take that confidence seriously. This flight is evidence of the power of connectivity and the belief that, through collaboration, we can achieve greater heights.
In response to the accolades, founder and chairman of Inter Caribbean Airways and visionary entrepreneur Lyndon Gardiner said it was a “special day to celebrate this inaugural non-stop service”.
He said, the company was thrilled to open up the gateway between “two of the Caribbean’s most vibrant cultures”.
Gardiner stated that the venture would “significantly enhance the connectivity between our islands and brings our people closer together.”
He said the airline’s goal has always been “to advance regional travel”, and “this new non-stop flight is a testament to the mission providing unmatched convenience and comfort between Barbados and Jamaica.”
Added Gardiner: “This new service will also have a tremendous economic impact, boosting trade, tourism, and job creation …to increase flow of our people, goods and services between Jamaica and Barbados and the southern Caribbean islands.”
He asserted, “The skies are open to new business and opportunity …and we are committed to forging more of this among groups to bring the Caribbean closer together”.
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