Sangster International Airport (SIA), Jamaica’s leading gateway to the world operated by MBJ Airports Limited (MBJ), now has an Expanded Departures Area which is being hailed as yet another element to the passenger experience that is critical to the overall success of an airport.
“Every step of the customer journey on arrival and departure is an opportunity to win the heart of a visitor, so that they will choose to visit Jamaica repeatedly. We want our passengers to develop an emotional connection to our country and, by extension, Sangster International Airport, creating ‘wow’ experiences at each step of the journey that will draw them back to Jamaica,” said Minister of Transport & Mining, Audley Shaw.
He was delivering the main address at the grand opening of the facility on December 14.
He noted that the Departures Retail Area, which includes a food court, is part of the programme of upgrading that has been taking place at the airport.
“We are not just happy with the physical appearance but also all the human development taking place… the professionalism of the staff, etc,” the minister said.
He said that the infrastructure development project taking place at the airport “serves as a true representation” of the vision to bring Jamaica’s aviation into the 21st century and beyond.
“What we are seeing… is truly historic. There have really been some major achievements… the new kiosks… the infrastructural improvements… for this airport over the past months, and those yet to come.
“It is indeed an exciting time to be Minister with responsibility for aviation as we witness the growth and expansion of this integral sector, and I look forward to seeing these major plans unfold as we move Jamaica into a new era in aviation,” Shaw said.
He noted that the retail area could easily remind a visitor of being in Milan, Italy; Times Square, New York; or Paris, France, noting that the airport is expected to see substantial growth in non-aeronautical revenue from the contribution of the shops.
“The fact that we now have a new food court and lounge in the departure area is a testament of the direction we are headed. Airport business development is at a pivotal point where persons no longer come only to get from one destination to another,” he pointed out.
He said the government is committed to working with stakeholders to ensure that Jamaica becomes a regional aviation hub and the “the pride of the Caribbean”.
“The ministry is excited to see the direction in which we are heading and must commend MBJ Airports Limited for the work they have done to make this airport a world-class facility and in the true Jamaican spirit,” he noted.
Shaw, who said that “this is a pivotal time for our aviation industry”, noted that despite the setback caused by COVID-19, Jamaica’s recovery continues to outpace other territories.
Meanwhile, he cited the October 6 Airports Council International World Report, which indicates that air travel should see a continued uptick in the second half of 2022, moving the industry closer to full recovery, which is still forecast for 2024.
He noted that during the first two quarters of 2022, global passenger volume was 1.3 billion and 1.7 billion, representing 62 per cent and 75.2 per cent of 2019 levels, respectively.