More information surfaced Monday afternoon about the decision by British Airways to pull out of Montego Bay, St James and reduce flights to other Caribbean destinations.
It now appears that the decision is linked to the UK’s sky-high Air Passenger Duty.
UK airlines, the Jamaican Diaspora in the UK, a number of British politicians, Caribbean leaders and other groups, had even appealed and protested to the British government to scrap what they described as an unfair and destructive tax, without success.
Reports in England on Monday, are that as a result of the tax, British Airways has decided to reduce its flights to the Caribbean, and increase its service to Florida.
Florida which is a holiday destination currently has a 20 percent lower tax rate than the Caribbean islands.
With the environment tax, a family of four flying economy class from the UK to Florida pays 240 pounds sterling, while a similar family travelling to the Caribbean has to pay 300 pounds.
British Airways points out that these rates are more than double what a family from Germany would pay.
At the same time, a family jetting out from France would be charged just 15 pounds, while there is no aviation tax at all for 22 European Union countries.
British Airways which returned to Montego Bay in 2009 after a seven-year absence made its decision public last week.
As a result the airline will no longer fly to the tourist resort twice per week from London, Gatwick.
Instead one of its Montego Bay flights will be re-routed to Kingston, resulting in three weekly flights to Jamaica’s capital and the other rerouted to Antigua.Only recently Virgin Atlantic which controversially purchased Air Jamaica slots at London Heathrow and used it to fly to Barbados announced that it was abandoning its London to Kingston route in April 2012.
This is just months ahead of the Olympic games in London where many Jamaicans are expected to attend. However, Virgin will continue flying from London to Montego Bay.
It’s understood that with the Air Passenger Duty, (APD) being cited in the UK for British Airway’s pull out, air travelers to Jamaica from London have been travelling via Miami and other USA destinations.
This is with a lower APD banding than the Caribbean, even when Miami is further than some Caribbean destinations.