Waves of Change: Caribbean Airlines to Operate Air Jamaica Ahead of Imminent Sale
On April 12th, Kingston-based Air Jamaica is expected to shift control of its operations to Caribbean Airlines in anticipation of a formal sale to the company, which is the flag carrier of Trinidad and Tobago. The date coincides with substantial changes to Air Jamaica’s schedule that will end service from Jamaica to Orlando, Chicago, Curacao, Havana, and Nassau.
The Jamaica Gleaner reports that the Jamaican government may renege on a letter of intent signed earlier this year that would have made Caribbean Airlines the exclusive national carrier of Jamaica. This comes after initial resistance from the Jamaican Airlines Pilots’ Association towards an exclusivity agreement with Caribbean Airlines. JALPA represents area pilots and has expressed an interest in pooling resources to start its own airline once Air Jamaica ceases to exist on or before July 1. Exclusivity would also conflict with future plans for an open skies policy in the Caribbean region, for which Jamaica would be a hub.
Ownership of Air Jamaica has fluctuated between the public and private sector several times in the last two decades. The Jamaican government privatized 70% of the airline from 1994 until 2004, when it resumed full ownership after financial losses. Privatization was then reconsidered in 2008 when the government announced it would divest itself of the airline after March 2009. It even appealed to interested parties through a dedicated website. (Our inside resources suggest Craigslist may have been a better option.)
Like Air Jamaica, Caribbean Airlines is no stranger to changing hands. The airline was born out of the demise of British West Indies Airlines in 2006 and began operating with much of the fleet and personnel that was displaced by BWIA.
After April 12th, Caribbean Airlines will continue international Air Jamaica flights between Jamaica and Ft. Lauderdale, New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Toronto. Three Airbus A320s will leave the colorful Air Jamaica fleet come April, bringing the total to four A320s, one A319, and one A321. Employees have also been informed that their positions will become obsolete once the transition is complete.
According to a press release, the process of moving to Caribbean Airlines will be phased over one year “in order to ensure that customers will continue to be provided with the best possible travel experience.” Of course, this includes the unique meal service some passengers have surely come to experience.
For travel to the sunny beaches of Jamaica before or after April 12, visit www.AirJamaica.com.