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Jamaica airports reap $29b in revenue

The two largest airports in Jamaica generated combined revenue of 3.5 billion Mexican pesos in 2022 for the Mexico-based Pacific Airport Group, GAP, which manages them.

The flows translated to about US$195 million in the greenback and $29.6 billion in Jamaican currency.

The airports, Sangster International and Norman Manley International, located respectively in Montego Bay and Kingston, generated the bulk of airline revenue from American Airlines, JetBlue and Delta, while from commercial stores, the flows mostly came from Dufry Jamaica, Express Catering, and TM Traders, according to the newly GAP annual report.

The combined revenue was two-thirds higher than in 2021, and higher than pre-pandemic levels, which amounted to 2.4 billion pesos in 2019. However, the amount of profit generated by the airports was not disclosed.

“We have more airline services, almost 10 new services commencing [since COVID-19], and with pent-up demand persons want to travel,” the Commercial Business Development & Marketing Manager at MBJ Airports, Sharon Hislop Holt, explained to the Financial Gleaner.

She added that Jamaica may also have gained travellers who switched travel plans from Eastern Europe due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Still, even though revenues are above pre-pandemic highs, the passenger traffic through the two airports was roughly 7.0 per cent lower than 2019.

Relative to 2021, however, business was robust.

Sangster International Airport generated revenue of 2.38 billion pesos (US$132 million) in 2022, up 63 per cent. Its passenger traffic vaulted to 4.35 million from 2.58 million the year prior.

It’s Jamaica’s largest airport, and currently serves 24 international airlines, with American Airlines generated 374.3 million pesos (US$21 million) in revenue for the airport, up from 270.1 million pesos a year earlier. The earnings from the other carriers was not disclosed.

In relation to the commercial stores, the airport earned US$10.7 million from duty free store Dufry Jamaica, up from US$7.5 million in 2021. Earnings from food and beverage provider Express Catering rose to US$3.2 million from US$1.9 million.

GAP holds a majority stake in MBJ Airports Limited, which operates Sangster International Airport, with Vantage Group of Canada as its minority partner.

MBJ Airports is investing US$70 million over the medium term to expand the airport. The funds will go towards the expansion of the immigration and outbound security screening hall; expansion of the main check-in hall; the implementation of biometric systems for departure; a landside development project to improve roadway and parking; the expansion and renovation of gates 1 through 7; the expansion of MBJ’s solar plant; and the renovation of the air-sea lounge.

“We facilitate passengers coming on flights to go on cruises. Now they line up in corridors for checks by immigration, then go on a bus to the cruise port. This expansion will create a comfortable space for processing by immigration,” said Hislop Holt.

Regarding the biometric upgrade, the commercial manager said it would eventually obviate the need for passports in certain sections of the airport.

“We have common use self-service kiosks and passport readers for check-in and immigration, but biometrics will reduce or eliminate the use of passport and boarding passes,” she said.

These expansion plans are separate from the ongoing runway extension that will is being funded by the Government of Jamaica at a cost of US$70 million.

Over 20 years, since it took over the concession to operate the airport in 2003, MBJ has spent US$308 million on improvement and upgrades to the airport. The US$70 million will be additional to those funds.

Norman Manley International Airport, NMIA, generated revenue of 1.14 billion pesos (US$63 million) last year, up 75 per cent, assisted by the growth in passenger traffic, which rose 88 per cent from 830,000 to 1.56 million persons.

NMIA provides services to 13 international airlines, with JetBlue Airways as the top source of revenue at 299.5 million pesos (US$16.6 million). In 2022, JetBlue accounted for 26 per cent of passenger activity.

NMIA’s largest sources of commercial income were duty store operator TM Traders Limited, which generated US$2.9 million last year and US$2.1 million in 2021, and food company Goddard Catering Group, which generated US$2.1 million and US$1.4 million, in the respective years, the GAP report stated.

NMIA is managed through PAC Kingston Airport Limited, which is wholly owned by GAP.

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