Published On: Thu, Dec 27th, 2012

7.5 million seats for US-Caribbean routes this winter season

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – With over 300,000 weekly airline seats available into the Caribbean over the 22-week International Air Transport Association (IATA) winter schedule season, this region is expecting to lay claim to more than 7.5 million seats before the end of March.

This is according to information provided by Anna Aero, the airline network news and analysis website. According to the online airline news tracker, four new routes have already been launched in this 2012-2013 winter season – including two from jetBlue to Grand Cayman last month – and the there are still nine routes yet to launch in the next six months for the US-Caribbean market.

Anna Aero reports that Delta Airlines has recorded 30% growth in this market over the past 12 months, fuelled by extra capacity mainly from New York. Increases have come about through an extra 14 weekly flights from New York JFK airport to San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well as seven more weekly flights to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. New York La Guardia is also experiencing Caribbean growth, with a new daily flight to Nassau in the Bahamas.

The website is also reporting jetBlue’s new daily A320-services from West Palm Beach in Florida to San Juan, single and thrice-weekly A320-flights from Boston and New York JFK to Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, as well as twice-weekly A320-flights to Samaná in the Dominican Republic. The New York JFK-based low-cost carrier is the only airline flying from the US to this destination in the north-east of the Dominican Republic.

Despite its significance, the total US-Caribbean market has shrunk marginally since December 2011 – with around 4% less capacity this year.

A major reason for this, reported the website, is that the United Airlines has cut reduced seats through net weekly flights cuts of 20 and seven respectively from New York Newark and Houston as the airline continues to trim excess capacity following its merger with Continental Airlines. Services to Aruba, in Aruba have been cut completely from Houston, while operations to Grand Cayman and Montego Bay, Jamaica have both been reduced by three weekly flights, also from its Texan hub.

Anna Aero also reports that the Dominican Republic is the most popular Caribbean destination for US travellers. Excluding US territories, San Juan and the Virgin Islands, it is the Dominican Republic which lures most Americans away from their home shores, with close to 60,000 weekly seats and still growing. Six destinations are served on the island discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492 from 13 of the 15 points offered in the US. Of the Caribbean’s over 7,000 islands, islets, reefs and cays, it is the former Netherlands Antilles colony of Curaçao that has seen the most growth in the past 12 months, with over 40% more seats than last December.

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