The Ministry of Transport and Mining is reporting that Jamaica’s aviation traffic rebounded to six million passengers, or 91 per cent of the pre-COVID-19 level, by December 2022.
Portfolio Minister Audley Shaw made the disclosure during his 2023/24 Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (May 9).
Jamaica’s aviation traffic suffered a major hit in 2020 following the COVID-19 pandemic’s onset, falling by 67 per cent or 2.2 million passengers.
This, after previously rising to 6.5 million passengers between the Sangster International Airport (SIA) in Montego Bay and the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) in Kingston.
Shaw informed that a full return to pre-COVID-19 aviation traffic levels of approximately 6.5 million passengers annually is projected by the year 2025.
“This remarkable recovery has taken place halfway through the projected six years! Jamaica also matches strides with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region as the world leader in air-traffic recovery, with a rate of 91 per cent as at the end of 2022,” he said.
Minister Shaw pointed out that the global air traffic recovery rate, as of 2022, is 72 per cent as published by Airports Council International.
“The rapid recovery of Jamaica’s aviation traffic is a welcome phenomenon for our economy. But unfortunately, it is accompanied by some teething pains in our major airports, such as congestion at the Sangster International Airport,” he noted.
Shaw said the matter is being prioritised by the Government and relevant agencies for response.
He indicated that as an immediate measure to ameliorate the prevailing issues, 15 additional Automated Border Control (ABC) kiosks are being procured through the Airport Improvement Fund, this month.
“Airports are, by nature, very capital-intensive facilities, with ongoing expansion and other programmes in response to traffic growth, industry and regulatory compliance, innovations for efficiency, and changes in the operational environment,” Shaw said.