JIS News

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, the Hon Audley Shaw, says that the Jamaica Airline Pilots Association’s (JALPA) interest in purchasing Air Jamaica could only be considered if there was a fall-out in current discussions with Caribbean Airlines, and failure to reach an agreement with the bidder next in line.
“Then we would have to reopen the bidding process so that others, whether JALPA or others who wish to bid, would be able to do so,” he said, noting that there was at least one other interested party in the Air Jamaica sale, other than Caribbean Airlines.
Mr. Shaw said that the government is committed to a transparent system of divestment consistent with the procurement policies. Hence, he emphasized, because JALPA’s proposal had come so late in the process, Caribbean Airlines remained the most probable buyer at this time, and its proposal is being actively considered.
“Their interest, coming as late in the day as it has come, could not be allowed to supersede the procurement process. In fact the actual business plan from JALPA has only come to us within the past few days,” Mr. Shaw said.
He disclosed that the government is now in receipt of an updated letter of intent from Caribbean Airlines, and is preparing a draft shareholders agreement.
“The objective being that Caribbean Airlines would essentially be operating a number of key, core routes, primarily routes such as New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Toronto and Fort Lauderdale,” he outlined.
He noted that at the appropriate time, both parties will make a joint statement in which all details of the agreement will be set out.
Mr. Shaw urged representatives of the unions representing Air Jamaica’s employees, to desist from taking an approach that is potentially hostile and destabilizing. He stated that threat of industrial action was an approach that could cause further losses to the national carrier.
While assuring that the workers’ redundancy payments are “safe and secure”, Mr. Shaw cautioned that any cash loss to air Jamaica at this time could compromise the government’s ability to pay out the redundancy on a timely basis.
He also gave an undertaking that jobs will be available in all categories, even with the divestment.
“By virtue of Jamaica’s strategic location, we will still have to have maintenance of planes; we will still have to have ground staff; we will still require air hostesses and pilots. That is an absolute fact,” he noted.

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