The Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ) has spent approximately $5 million since the start of 2021 to purchase tablets for students, as part of its corporate social responsibility programme.
The tablets were earmarked to assist students who have been out of school since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced school closures in March 2020.
Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Robert Montague, provided details at the recent handover of a police post to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) by the AAJ, at the Ian Fleming Airport in St. Mary.
“It is in response to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information’s initiative of one tablet or one laptop per child and is aimed at children who are not on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) but are still needy,” the Minister said.
“We distributed those tablets in the catchment area where we have airports or aerodromes and we intend to spend some more, because money spent in education is not money spent, it is money invested,” he noted.
The Minister pointed out that the initiative was funded by the AAJ from its profits, adding that the AAJ makes no apology for responding to the call of the Education Ministry.
For his part, AAJ President and Chief Executive Officer, Audley Deidrick, said that prior to the pandemic, the AAJ’s revenue would ordinarily have been approximately $10 billion per year, and highlighted the fact that although there have been challenges, the organisation has been able to meet its commitments.
“This revenue would have been significantly impaired based on traffic flow in 2020/21 by about 75 per cent, so that would have been the extent of our revenue downturn for that one year. The AAJ, however, has been consistently making profits for several years and also increasing its reserve of cash resources, and so it is from a combination of the increased reserve of cash resources that we have, plus the fact that traffic is returning quite gradually, that we are able to make and keep that commitment that the Minister mentioned,” he explained.