St. John’s, Antigua: Minister for Tourism Asot Michael announces the JetBlue’s Direct Service from JFK to Antigua. AntiguaFocus presents his speech during the announcement.
Today is a good day because all signs point to 2015 as being a landmark year for Antigua and Barbuda’s tourism. As the primary engine of growth for our nation’s economy, our tourism industry is vital, dynamic and evolving. The intense negotiations, and planning over the last several months has brought us to this point where we can now celebrate another first in Aviation for Antigua and Barbuda.
We are here to mark another milestone, the announcement of the introduction of non-stop service from JFK to Antigua and Barbuda on Jet Blue Airways, Clearly, visitors to Antigua and Barbuda already have a lot to look forward to in 2015, as the country is in the final stages of the journey to complete our brand new airport terminal. As the largest, most modern airport facility in the region, it promises to be the pride of the Eastern
Caribbean, operating to world class standards. When this state-of-the-art facility is unveiled in a few weeks, it will send a signal of the development underway in our tourism industry and the increasing prosperity of Antigua and Barbuda. As the point of entry for air travelers, the V.C. Bird International Airport will provide the perfect backdrop, to highlight some of the destination’s unique selling points, among which are our rich history and cultural attractions, a range of exquisite resorts, 365 pristine beaches and one of the most prestigious Sailing Regattas in the world, the Antigua Sailing Week that we are celebrating this very week.
The new airport terminal will also symbolize the pathway to securing Antigua and Barbuda’s economic legacy, as we usher in an era of improved accessibility, growth and expansion, with increased stay over visitors, new airline partners, expanded and luxurious room capacities and an overall enhanced image.
Our new terminal has been designed to meet the needs of today’s modern travelers and will give the destination a competitive advantage. It will also expand our capacity for conducting business and will increase our carrier and landing capacity. It will be equipped with jet bridges, reliable kiosks, modern gate and ticketing areas that allow for a smoother arrival and boarding experience.
It will also feature several restaurants and high end duty free shops. This along with expedited customs and immigration processing will truly improve the passenger arrival and departure experience. Simply put; less time standing in Airport lines means more time lying on the beach!
This superior passenger destination experience will reflect the way today’s travelers live and choose to spend their time. Ladies and gentlemen this renewed focus on a superior experience that Antigua and Barbuda is embarking upon is directly aligned with the Philosophy of our Jet Blue Partners. My understanding is that our newest airline partner has not only declared that “Jet Blue exists to provide superior service in every aspect our customer’s air travel experience” but in order to reaffirm this commitment they have actually set forth a “Bill of Rights” for their customers.
As part of our developmental plans, we want to capitalize on the rebound in the US economy, our largest and fastest growing source market. We are increasing our room count with new hotel investments to expand our portfolio of properties and meet the diverse demands of new visitors.
The capacity of our new Airport terminal will allow us to handle up to 2M passengers per year. So naturally one of the future goals is to significantly increase the number of visitors that currently pass through our international airport terminal. To accomplish this objective, we have developed an airline strategy to increase airlift by attracting new carriers from our existing source markets. At the same time, we are exploring new gateways that will help us cultivate new source markets. Opening new air access with convenient flight options is the key to “getting more heads in beds.”
To this end, we are pleased to announce the introduction of non-stop service from JFK to Antigua and Barbuda on Jet Blue Airways and I want to personally thank Mr. St. George and his team at Jet Blue Airways for their confidence in our plans for tourism and our tourism product which is demonstrated by this new service.
The flights will commence on 5th of November this year, just in time for the winter season, operating three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Jet Blue will be using the 150-seat spacious Airbus A320 aircraft, which offers travelers all of the amenities for which Jet Blue has become renowned.
Combined with extremely competitive fare, which will be a critical component of this partnership. We will see increased arrivals between the USA and Antigua and Barbuda. Jet Blue will provide greater access to visitors traveling from the Northeast region of the US. This is expected to stimulate a significant increase in stay over visitors, allowing Antigua and Barbuda to further benefit from the US market with more convenient non-stop flight options.
We are already intensifying our marketing efforts and will work closely with the travel trade to package and sell Antigua and Barbuda in key markets. We will continue to collaborate with stakeholders on a number of promotional initiatives to ensure that our strong tourism product continues to meet the visitor expectations. We will work closely with Jet Blue’s marketing team to stage a series of media, trade and consumer promotional activities to ensure that the launch of this new service to Antigua and Barbuda is successful.
In closing, I also thank the Honorable Prime Minister, my Cabinet colleagues and our partners in the private sector and my team at the Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority who have given their full support to facilitate Jet Blue’s service to Antigua.
Mr. St. George, Mr. Goodell, Mr. Gupta and Ms Ninomiya, welcome to Antigua and Barbuda… We look forward to an even more auspicious event in November when we will see the first 150 JetBlue passengers disembarking in our beautiful country.
May the partnership that has been started today be one that will be cemented in bonds of respect and friendship that will yield mutual benefits to both Jet Blue Airways and Antigua and Barbuda.