By Latonya Linton
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- On January 1, 2013, Russian airline, Transaero, will begin nonstop service from Moscow to Montego Bay, using a Boeing 777 with 300 seats.
This was announced by Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Dr Wykeham McNeill, at a press briefing held on Thursday.
He noted that the flights are being organised by Russian tour operator, Biblio Globus, in association with Transaero.
“The flights will run for three months initially; however, we are in discussions with them to continue into the summer and to provide the service for the entire year. We are also formalising plans to fly in a group of Russian media representatives to help promote destination Jamaica in Russia,” McNeill said.
He added that the ministry is optimistic that the Russian market will provide significant returns, as the minimum stay by visitors from that market is 10 nights, which is twice the average stay of visitors from traditional markets, such as the United States.
For his part, Russian ambassador to Jamaica, Vladimir Polenov, noted, "There is a lot to be discovered here in Jamaica and I am sure the coming Russian invasion will bring a wave of very engaged people."
“The direct flights to Montego Bay mean not only Russian tourists will come to Jamaica, but we hope that our Jamaican friends will use this opportunity to come to Russia,” Polenov added.
Transaero is the second largest airline out of Russia, which flies to 40 countries on 130 routes and has hubs in Moscow, St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. They operate flights between Moscow and Belorussia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
Meanwhile, confirmation has also been received for service out of the Czech Republic for this winter. Exim Tours, which is owned by German tour operator, Meir’s Velt Reisen, will operate a charter from Prague starting December 28, 2012. The flight is to be shared with Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, with 100 seats designated for Jamaica with 10 rotations.
Also in support of this flight, 100 travel agents will be coming from Europe for a week, to tour the entire island in the last week of November.
The tourism minister also stated that for this winter, there will be nonstop service out of Paris, France, which will be operated by French tour operator, Look Voyages (Voy-aje), providing 350 seats.
“Prior to this year, we shared this flight with the Dominican Republic. However, it is now a direct flight to Jamaica and we will benefit from the full complement of 350 seats, bringing 100 additional seats to Jamaica,” McNeill said.
He also confirmed that following discussions with TUI, there will be flights out of Scandinavia for winter 2013/14, from Stockholm, Sweden, to Montego Bay, using their new 787 Dream-liner. Potentially, this flight will provide an additional 28,000-room night on a fortnightly basis.
In addition, Thomas Cook Nordic has started a Jamaican programme, using the Condor flight via Frankfurt.
“It has sold well and they have now indicated that they will offer service from Stockholm on a fortnightly basis with their own aircraft, an Airbus 330 for winter 2013-2014, which will further open up the Scandinavian market. This is in keeping with our strategy to open new frontiers,” McNeill said.
British Airways will also maintain its three flights to Kingston and Virgin Atlantic Airways its two flights to Montego Bay, but a third flight will commence on November 16. Additionally, TUI will add a second flight from Gatwick to Montego Bay this summer.
TUI has also added a flight for the upcoming winter season fortnightly out of Gatwick, taking the total number of flights to Jamaica to four. This fortnightly flight will become a weekly service in May 2013.