Easing fears over sell of Air Jamaica

Minister Edmund Bartlett is reassuring members of the international business
community that the fallout from the impending divestment of Air Jamaica is
anticipated to be minimal.

“We have been taking steps to
ensure that other United States carriers are increasing their rotations to
Jamaica,” Bartlett said.

“The sale of Air Jamaica is
not expected to leave existing gateways without service, as Caribbean Airlines
will provide the necessary continuity.”

The minister said the cost of the
national airline to the Government is unsustainable.

He said that financials as at the
end of June 2009 showed an accumulated deficit of $1.4 billion.

“Our objective is to ensure
that there is adequate coverage of the gateways that are important to our
tourism,” Bartlett added. “We have been successful in attracting 12
new gateways during the past 12 months, and there is every indication that more
carriers will be flying to Jamaica.”

Bartlett credited the growth in
Canadian visitors for the increase in arrivals to Jamaica. Statistics indicate
that total stopovers from Canada increased by 22.9 per cent from 236,193 in
2008, to 290,307 last year.

While Jamaica and Canada have had
long-standing business ties, Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica Stephen C.
Hallihan said his country was actively negotiating a bilateral trade and
investment treaty with CARICOM.

“Our foreign policy currently
identifies Afghanistan, the engagement of emerging nations, such as China and
India, and our role in the Americas and the Caribbean as our three overarching
priorities,” Hallihan said in his remarks.

“In this regard, our engagement
with CARICOM, as official government policy, is now focused on democratic
governance, regional security and mutual prosperity.”

Hallihan said the second round of
discussion between Canada and CARICOM would continue in September, following on
negotiations that were held last November in Barbados.

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