planned transition of Air Jamaica to Caribbean Airlines has been set back for
18 days, leaving the cash-strapped carrier in even more trouble.
With advanced booking down to a
trickle as travellers adopt a wait-and-see posture, the airline could face
serious cash flow problems because of its failure to meet the 12 April deadline
Employees of the airline, who also
expected to get redundancy payments next Monday, will have to wait a while
longer because of the delay, which has seen the start of the transition period
shifted to 30 April.
The transition is expected to last
for 6 to 12 months before Caribbean Airlines takes full control of the
profitable Air Jamaica routes.
Airline insiders said the delay in
finalising the deal was linked to the Government’s failure to secure an
agreement with the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) for Air
Jamaica to continue flying to that country during the transition period.
There has been no official
confirmation of this from government officials, but the industry insiders were
adamant that until an agreement was reached with the DOT the Jamaican
Government could not relinquish the controlling interest in the airline.
“There is a team, as we speak,
in Washington, dealing with that particular matter,” Daryl Vaz, Information
Minister said at the weekly post cabinet press briefing.
“Based on the report that came to
Cabinet by Transport Minister Mike Henry, the discussions are going very, very
well and we don’t see any problems in terms of the transition between Caribbean
Airlines and Air Jamaica.”
Meanwhile Bruce Nobles, the president of Air Jamaica, sought to assure
customers that the airline would continue offering quality service during the
terms, our customers and stakeholders will not see any visible difference in
the airline or its services during the initial transition period, as Jamaicans,
visitors, shippers and travel partners can continue to book on Air Jamaica with
confidence,” Nobles said.