Air Jamaica’s President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bruce Nobles has assured Jamaicans living in Canada that it is business as usual at Air Jamaica, since the takeover by Caribbean Airlines, on May 1.
“Air Jamaica is still here. The little piece of Jamaica that flies still flies. It is still the best deal in town, still the best Lovebird hospitality and still the most flights to Jamaica,” he said.
The President was giving an update on Air Jamaica on June 3, at the Travelodge Hotel in Toronto, Canada. He was joined by the CEO of Caribbean Airlines, Captain Ian Brunton and officials from both airlines.
Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, George Ramocan (right), Trinidad and Tobago’s Consul, Kathy Radoo, at a meeting to update Jamaicans living in Canada on Air Jamaica.
Mr. Nobles said that the Transition Services Agreement signed between Air Jamaica and Caribbean Airlines on May 1 would see Air Jamaica operating exactly the same during a six to 12-month transition period.
He said during this transition period, the two airlines would work closely to develop a combined airline taking the strengths of Air Jamaica and the strengths of Caribbean Airlines and creating “one larger, stronger, better capitalised regional airline that can provide the kind of product that travellers to and from Jamaica and the Caribbean region can benefit.”
Calling the signing on May 1 a “monumental moment,” Captain Brunton said it was reminiscent of the West Indies Federation which did its best to “unite the Caribbean.”
Captain Brunton gave an overview of Caribbean Airlines (CAL), which was launched on January 30, 2007. He said that the airline had a very “strong balance sheet with no debt at all.”
“We are about three times the size we were when we started. Not only are we three times the size, we paid our way all the way,” he added.
Mr. Nobles said that Caribbean Airlines has assumed full financial responsibility for Air Jamaica; the Government of Jamaica has a 16 per cent ownership in Caribbean Airlines; and Caribbean Airlines has retained approximately 1,000 employees from Air Jamaica.
He explained that because of the economic losses that Air Jamaica had suffered over the years, it was imperative to divest the airline.
Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, George Ramocan urged those present to give their full support and to encourage others to do the same.
“There’s no doubt that regional integration is the order of the day and the advantages that come with that can serve in many ways to advance the cause of the individual countries. I believe that both parties stand to benefit greatly; both countries stand to benefit greatly; and the Caribbean stands to benefit greatly,” said Mr. Ramocan.
As of July 1, Air Jamaica will increase its services, including an additional daily flight to Toronto. Two free checked bags will also be allowed in economy class and three free checked bags in executive class, plus discounts for seniors and accompanied minors.
The information session was attended by executives from Caribbean Airlines and Air Jamaica, including Chief of Sales, Will Rogers; Regional Manager for the Jamaica Tourist Board, Sandra Scott; President of the Jamaican Diaspora Canada Foundation (JDCF), Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams; travel agents and representatives from Jamaican community organisations.