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Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, last night (Nov. 13) assured Jamaicans in London of the Government’s commitment to Air Jamaica, noting that the national carrier would not “fade away”.
Responding to a newspaper story, which said that there was no clear plan for the future of the airline if the divestment process failed, Mr. Bartlett said Air Jamaica would remain an important part of the travel industry.
“The headlines this morning gave a much distorted position as to Air Jamaica’s future and the impression given was that if the divestment was not completed in March, Air Jamaica would fade away. I just want that point to be clarified. This Government has absolutely no intention of having Air Jamaica not remaining an important part of the landscape of our travel industry,” Mr. Bartlett said.
The Minister was speaking at the second of two community meetings hosted by the Jamaican High Commission during his visit to the United Kingdom this week, to lead Jamaica’s delegation to the World Travel Market trade show.
“The point is that we have never enjoyed having to bear the burden of carrying the losses of Air Jamaica. The strategy therefore is to move towards removing Air Jamaica from the budget and to make it a viable concern on its own and that project is being driven by the need to divest a substantial portion of Air Jamaica. It may very well be that we may have to retain a portion of it, but the intention is to ensure that it is privately operated but it remains Air Jamaica, “he assured the large audience.
Meanwhile, Air Jamaica’s Senior Director, George DeMacardo, reiterated that the decision to remove Air Jamaica from the London route was due to the heavy losses that could no longer be sustained.
He gave the audience a glimmer of hope that the airline may some day return. “Is Air Jamaica ever going to come back to London? Never say never because it is not impossible,” he said.