Thu | Feb 2, 2023

Staff beef-up to ease processing waits at Sangster

Published:Monday | March 7, 2022 | 12:10 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Tourists arrive at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay St James on Wednesday, December 15, 2021. The airport is seeking to ease processing wait times on weekends.
Tourists arrive at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay St James on Wednesday, December 15, 2021. The airport is seeking to ease processing wait times on weekends.

WESTERN BUREAU:

The full complement of immigration officers, plus 45 kiosks during peak hours, complemented by the online C5 immigration card accessible at www.enterjamaica.com, are among the measures Sangster International Airport will implement to reduce the long waiting hours on weekends.

The C5 card is linked to not only immigration, but also Customs, and travellers are encouraged to fill out their forms in advance. The Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) has noted that this measure was not mandatory, but could help speed up the processing of arrival.

On Saturdays, between noon and 2 p.m., up to 25 flights arrive at the airport, with an estimated 3,000-4,000 passengers to be processed within the two-hour span, Delano Seiveright, senior adviser and strategist in the Ministry of Tourism, revealed in a press statement.

According to Seiveright, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett convened an emergency meeting last Saturday with select government and private-sector stakeholders to address the wait concerns.

Over the years, members of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) have complained about the long processing to which guests have been subjected, particularly, during peak hours.

“The meeting was quickly arranged to assess the situation and implement immediate ways in which arriving passengers can be processed at a faster rate given surging arrival numbers and concerns by visitors and locals alike,” Seiveright said.

Seiveright said the situation was further complicated by the broader capacity woes on Saturdays, with sometimes five minutes between arriving flights.

The new strategies will include the deployment of more staff to assist arriving passengers, including possibly expediting travellers with young children, said Seiveright.

MBJ Airports Limited, which operates the Sangster International, intends to expand its immigration hall and digital transformation, including e-Gates, biometric processing, additional self-service kiosks, and enhanced outbound screening equipment.