12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
Air Jamaica says that major losses coupled with over-capacity on its Kingston-London route have contributed to its complete withdrawal from the UK.
State-owned Air Jamaica revealed that the daily service to Heathrow was sustaining vast losses of $27m (”13.7m) per year, while soaring fuel costs were expected to see the route leak $30m in 2007 or around $2.5m per month.
”We are really disappointed that this decision has had to be made to close the route,” said Air Jamaica general manager UK & Europe, Anne Deamer, adding: ”Air Jamaica has been flying from London to Jamaica for 11 years and acknowledges in particular the importance of the Jamaican community in the UK, who will be affected by the closure.
”However, there is over-capacity on the route and unfortunately, we cannot justify retaining the service, as the high costs and low yields make it unsustainable.”
The over-capacity that Air Jamaica says is partly responsible for the decision to pull the plug on the UK, is a result of intense competition between scheduled carriers such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic ” with the latter beginning Gatwick-Kingston services in October ” but also from a raft of charter airlines, which operate into the holiday island.
London is Air Jamaica”s only long-haul route and the two Airbus A340 aircraft required to fly the service, will be returned to the lessor on an early lease termination or subleased to another carrier.
The use of daily Heathrow slots also appears to have played a major role, as the significantly higher cost of operating into the UK”s premier gateway, has resulted in poor yields from what is essentially, tourist traffic.
”The elimination of losses from the route is a major component of the financial gap that needs to be closed if the airline is to achieve self-reliance and profitability,” said a statement from the Government of Jamaica”s Information Service.
”London Heathrow is an expensive airport, which airlines use on routes that yield substantially higher fares compared to what can be generated on flights to Jamaica. There is no benefit to operating highly sought after slots if they cannot be put to productive and profitable use.”
Virgin Atlantic will operate twice-weekly flights to Kingston from Gatwick as well as its existing Montego Bay service from the same airport, with Air Jamaica adding its codeshare.
The government is insisting that no further route cuts are planned, but it remains firmly of the opinion that operating the London route with A340 aircraft ” ”the airline within the airline,” is simply unsustainable. The carrier currently operates a fleet of six Airbus A321s in addition to the two A340 aircraft.
”By eliminating service on a route that has a significant drag on profitability and little or no prospects for a reversal of this trend, this allows our airline to increase service on routes that are performing better,” it said.