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JIS News

Air Jamaica’s Senior Vice President for Sales & Marketing, Paul Pennicook, has said that the national airline is making a significant contribution to the Jamaican economy through charity flights that assist in individual and national emergencies.
Speaking with JIS News recently, Mr. Pennicook asserted that, “without a national airline, the contribution that Air Jamaica makes to recovery after natural disasters, flying people with medical emergencies to various places, bringing medical missions and supplies to Jamaica, airlifting donations for local schools and other institutions and supporting so many fundraising events for charity, would be greatly missed.”
The statement by the Air Jamaica official is supported by the findings of a study conducted by a team of professors at the world renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which found that between 1995 and 2004 the national airline delivered some US$5.5 billion in benefits to the economy.
“The national airlines of other countries that fly to Jamaica would not be willing to provide as many complimentary gestures,” he noted “so this has to be seen as a big part of our economic contribution.”
The range of Air Jamaica’s support for national causes extends from the airline being a long time sponsor of the National Spelling Bee contest and flying prize trip winners overseas, to the company’s significant involvement as an official sponsor of the senior national football squad, the Reggae Boyz, transporting them free of cost to destinations to which the airline flies; and having a similar arrangement with the senior national netball team, the Sunshine Girls.
Added to this, is the assistance provided to the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association, the Jamaica Olympic and Special Olympics Associations and adoption of the Windward Road Primary & Junior High School in East Kingston.
At the school, Air Jamaica staff members assume teaching and other duties one day each year and students, who excel in the arts, receive scholarships to the Edna Manley College of Visual & Performing Arts.
The airline is also involved with the Lasco awards programmes for various public sector professionals, supports national breast cancer awareness and provides an internship programme for young Jamaicans from inner-city communities. This programme prepares participants for the working world and allows some to join the airline’s staff.
“Air Jamaica participates in a lot of events where tickets are raffled or given away as gate prizes but especially events that benefit health and education,” Mr. Pennicook noted.
He added that, “we have flown numerous medical missions and staged health fairs in different parishes over the years, in addition to adopting a ward at the Bustamante Hospital for Children that we maintain fully, donate various supplies to and work with in critical areas. And for education, we have flown in books and computers for high school libraries.”
Quantifying this huge financial contribution, the Air Jamaica Vice President disclosed that, “we spend approximately 15 per cent of our entire annual marketing budget in the area of support for charity.”
Air Jamaica has been recognized internationally for its contribution to charity. Among the significant awards it has received is the Counterpart International Award for contribution to peace and sustainable development, which Mr. Pennicook said was won “because they thought our charitable work was very progressive.”