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KINGSTON, Jamaica; September 14, 2017: The shutdown of Florida airports because of Hurricane Irma resulted in the cancellation of some 14,000 flights between the Caribbean and the southern US state, according to a tracking service FlightAware.
“Hurricane Irma severely impacted flights between Florida and the Caribbean. In fact, it had a bigger negative impact on tourist arrivals numbers over the last several days than the brief shutdown of Jamaica's airspace following a lightning strike last Friday,” said Senior Advisor/Strategist to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, Delano Seiveright.
Noting that most of Jamaica's flights originate from the Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando international airports, amounting to roughly 14 or 15 per day, Seiveright noted, "Those cancelations since Friday have had a more serious impact as thousands of tourists fly from or connect through these hubs for American Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit and Southwest Airlines."
He added that the Florida airports are gradually coming back to normalcy as airlines scramble to get their schedules back in order.
Seiveright noted that the shutdown of the Jamaican airspace had a more significant impact "on our European flights into Montego Bay from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany and elsewhere. These are long haul 9 and 10-hour transatlantic flights and the crisis put them into a difficult position. Nonetheless, they worked through the disruptions."
He indicated that Minister Bartlett maintains hourly contact with stakeholders across the travel and aviation sectors and commended the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) for understanding the challenges and working miraculously to handle European flights out of Montego earlier this week by keeping operations open up to 11:00 p.m.
JCAA Chairman Phillip Henriques also met with Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) Chairman John Lynch, JTB Director Godfrey Dyer and Seiveright at JTB's head office in New Kingston yesterday as part of a closely coordinated communications strategy between the JCAA, the JTB and the Ministry of Tourism.
Seiveright noted, outside of Florida's airports getting back in full order, things are now approaching normality with tourists easily entering and departing the island.
Minister Bartlett is attending the 22nd Session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) General Assembly, which is being held in Chengdu, China, from September 11 to 16, 2017.