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JIS News

Air Jamaica is revamping its operations to reduce losses, and has unveiled a three-point business plan, which is aimed at keeping the company operating throughout this year, and to position it on a path towards financial stability.
“This is a pivotal year for Air Jamaica, as we must become a lean and efficient airline to survive these difficult times,” said Air Jamaica’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Bruce R. Nobles.
He told JIS News that the business plan, which places a “singular focus on rationalising operational, infrastructure and overhead costs”, will include eliminating cash losses by exiting loss-making markets, revising all schedules, improving aircraft utilisation by more than 25 per cent, and executing an efficiency plan that will improve productivity and bring Air Jamaica’s unit costs in line with international norms.
“These decisions were not arrived at easily, and reflect a commitment to the people of Jamaica that we will do everything to reduce the airline’s impact on the national budget, something that is certainly even more important now as the country navigates through the global financial crisis,” said Mr. Nobles.
Effective February 26, 2009, Air Jamaica will exit Atlanta, Los Angeles, Grand Cayman, and Miami routes, and will discontinue service between Jamaica and Barbados and Jamaica and Grenada. This will result in the closure of the affected stations and reductions in the work force.
With these changes the airline’s fleet will be reduced to nine aircrafts, which is the appropriate number required to efficiently operate the new schedule. The airline will restructure existing leases and negotiate aircraft returns to accomplish this result.
Air Jamaica’s new schedule has 218 weekly flights to 14 destinations, with service between Jamaica and Toronto, New York (JFK), Chicago (O’Hare), Baltimore, Philadelphia, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Curacao, Nassau, and Havana, as well as between New York and Barbados, and New York and Grenada.
Mr. Nobles told JIS News, that the plan has been reviewed in detail by the board of Air Jamaica, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw and Minister without portfolio, Senator Don Wehby, who has responsibility for the airline, and they fully support the strategy.
“In our 40-year history as Jamaica’s flag carrier, this is without question our most challenging time. We are doing everything possible to minimise the impact on the Air Jamaica family, including voluntary redundancies and leaves of absence,” he informed.
“Even tougher times may be ahead, but I believe that we have the energy and imagination required to become the kind of airline that will have a future for many years to come,” he stated.
The Government of Jamaica is in the process of privatising the airline to meet a March 2009 deadline, and a sub-committee of the Board of Directors is engaged in talks with potential investors. The Divestment Committee of the Air Jamaica Board also believes that a successful execution of the 2009 Business Plan will enhance the attractiveness of Air Jamaica to investors and will speed up the privatisation process. Further information on the privatisation is available at http://www.airjamaicatransaction.org/