The focus of a new Sister Airport Cooperation Agreement between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the Airports Authority of Jamaica is to share best practices and technological developments.
According to Reese McCranie, director of policy and communications at Hartsfield-Jackson, it’s premature to predict whether the agreement will attract new airlines.
But that development is a possibility, he said, and “we hope that it will lead to more tourism and trade.”
Mr. McCranie told Global Atlanta that in the immediate future the agreement will promote cooperation concerning operational practices, but he hesitated to predict longer-term benefits.
Senior officials from Jamaica and Hartsfield-Jackson signed a memorandum of understanding in Atlanta on Feb 9 on behalf of the agreement to grow cargo and passenger traffic, airport planning and development as well as sharing market research through technical working groups and the exchange of educational visits.
Tracy Vaughn, director of business development and international accounts at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said 2015 statistics from the U.S. Commerce Department show that visitors from the Caribbean come to Georgia primarily for vacation or to celebrate holidays and to visit friends and relatives.
She also said that many Caribbean visitors also come to shop and that they know Atlanta is an excellent source of goods.
She added, however, that accessibility is a key to increasing international travel. In view of Hartsfield-Jackson’s ease of passing through customs and immigration services, she added, the prospects for more visitors are positive.
Located three miles east of Montego Bay, Jamaica, Sangster International Airport is one of the largest and busiest in the Caribbean and serves as a hub for many Caribbean airlines.
In 2003, it was privatized as a means of attracting private capital to finance its expansion and to cope with its expansion. The Airports Authority of Jamaica, a state controlled entity, owns Sangster and negotiates and manages the lease arrangement.
The authority’s main mission is to make sure that the airport continues to be internationally competitive and is able to meet the changing developmental needs of the tourism industry.
Norman Manley International Airport (MBJ) located in the capital city of Kingston and Ian Fleming International Airport in Boscobel, Saint Mary Parish are Jamaica’s two other international airports. MBJ is in the process of being privatized.
Atlanta and Montego Bay have maintained a Sister City relationship since 1972 with teams of physicians traveling to Jamaica over the years to provide immunizations, screenings and providing access to medical supplies and a variety of other health services. There also have been cooperations with city services including fire departments that have provided training and educational initiatives including book drives.
The memorandum of understanding with the Airport Authority is Atlanta’s fourth with Sister Airports. it also has similar agreements with Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel; Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport in near San Salvador in El Salvador and Felix-Houphouet-Boigny International Airport in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.