PILOTS WORRY ABOUT MOVE TO REDUCE FLIGHTS TO JAMAICA
KINGSTON — Caribbean Airlines’ decision to cut back on the number of flights to Jamaica is being seen by the Jamaican Airline Pilots’ Association as a first step towards pulling out of Jamaica.
For several weeks it was rumoured that Caribbean Airlines had planned to reduce flights to Jamaica, and on Tuesday, during a sitting of Parliament’s Standing Finance Committee, Transport Minister Dr. Omar Davies said that no information was forthcoming from CAL.
However yesterday, head of communications at CAL, Clint Williams, told Radio Jamaica in an interview that the decision had been made to reduce the flights effective April 16.
“You will see that the schedule, which comes in effect April 16, reflects a reduction in some flights where we saw that there was excess capacity in the load factors. We are not high now; we will consolidate it to one where there will be a higher load factor,” Williams said, adding that some of the scaling back had already started.
But, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer prior to Williams’ disclosure, JALPA’s Executive Administrator Gordon Woodstock pointed to the airline’s new 2013 flight schedule which shows a significant cut in flights between Jamaica and major gateways in the United States effective May 1.
“We have seen some very ominous signs,” Woodstock said. “CAL has put out a new schedule which, from May 1, there is only one flight to Fort Lauderdale out of Kingston; only one flight out of Kingston to New York and it leaves at 7 p.m. Now, tell me, if you want to survive. Kingston to New York, in particular, is your heaviest load; that’s your bread and butter, and you cut it down to one flight, and you can’t even get out early in the morning; and don’t think that although it’s one flight the seating capacity has increased.”
The flight schedule shows that from May 1 to November 2013 CAL will operate one flight daily from Kingston to Fort Lauderdale leaving at 6:45 a.m. and one flight daily from Montego Bay to Fort Lauderdale departing at 12:50 p.m.
Kingston to Orlando will be served by one flight daily, departing at 12:15 p.m., while the single Kingston to New York flight will leave at 7:10 p.m. daily, and the Montego Bay to New York flight is scheduled to leave at 6:10 p.m.
“A businessman can no longer go to Fort Lauderdale in the morning, have a meeting, and then come back in the evening,” Woodstock said. (Observer)
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