Effective 9 March 9, Air Jamaica
will cut flights in the Caribbean, disbanding their Grenada, Curaçoa, Nassau
and Havana routes.
The move is expected to have a
devastating impact on informal commercial operators doing business in Curaçao and Grenada, and students studying in Cuba. The news also comes days after the Government reportedly
signed a non-binding letter of intent with Caribbean Airlines (CAL).
Air Jamaica will cease flights from
New York (JFK) – Grenada and Jamaica – Orlando and Chicago as of 12 April,
stated a media release from the airline.
“This fleet reduction has
become necessary as we seek to meet our financial obligations; however, Air
Jamaica continues to be the best choice for convenient schedule and excellent
service, as we have ensured that adequate capacity is provided on our core
routes,” stated Bruce Nobles, CEO and president of the airline.
However, National Workers Union
president Granville Valentine is not convinced by this explanation and is
calling on divestment committee head, Dennis Lalor, and the Bruce Golding-led
administration to come clean in relation to the deal.
“A level of secrecy surrounds
this letter of intent,” stated Valentine.
According to him, the template
regarding the routes that were cut suits CAL’s plans, putting that group at an
“Initially in (CAL’s) discussions,
they did not want to carry those existing routes as they were not their best
fit,” said the union delegate.
He added that the move would leave
Jamaicans with absolutely no routes. “All Jamaicans will now need
non-immigrant visas to fly their national carrier, if this is allowed.”
The union is also questioning the
legitimacy of the US$1 that CAL is being awarded the airline for, while an
offer of US$45 million from Indigo, operators of Spirit Air, was thrown out.
Air Jamaica is carrying a debt burden of US$900 million.