Air Transport World

Air Jamaica sees a bright horizon.

Kingston--The tourists are coming back to Jamaica, and Air Jamaica is benefiting. About 850,000 will have visited the island by the end of 1984. This is up more than 8% over u983 and follows 16.7% and 12.4% gains in the two preceding years.

Some 90% of Jamaica's tourists are from North America and most of these are from the U.S.--80%. Since Air Jamaica's share of travelers arriving from North America on scheduled flights has been running at about 44%, applying this percentage across the board translates to somewhere around 350,000 tourists for the airline. Air Jamaica's total passenger traffic for the year is projected at 770,000. Systemwide load factor has been running at about 65%, compared with 60% in 1983.

The renascence of tourism reflects the warm relations re-established between Jamaica and the U.S. by Prime Minister Edward Seaga, the perception in the U.S. of increased social stability on the island, and the robust U.S. economy.

But passenger figures aren't the only bright numbers in the picture. After ten years of financial losses, the carrier expects that 1985, and maybe even 1984, will see it finally posting a net profit. At the very least, the line's officials told ATW they were almost certain they will show an operating profit this year.

As of June, net loss for the half-year was J$22.5 million, a considerable improvement over 1983 (it is difficult to compare financial results directly with previous years, since a sharp currency devaluation in late 1983 cut the official rate to U.S.$1=J$3.50). But the summer months, not included in the half-year figures, were coming in exceptionally strong. Revenues for the half-year were J$161.3 million and expenses were J$183.3 million. Yield after devaluation has been around J39^.

Air Jamaica's optimism is based on more than merely the upsurge in tourism. …

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