Air Jamaica return reports ‘premature’

Recent reports that Air Jamaica
will be resuming service to Grand Cayman have
been deemed premature by airline executives.

Air Jamaica is in the middle of a negotiation
with Trinidad carrier Caribbean Airlines Limited. Under the terms of that
agreement, Caribbean Airlines will assume full financial responsibility for Air
Jamaica while air operations continue.

A new company called Caribbean
Airlines Air Jamaica Transition Limited will handle operations in a transition period
that might last six to 12 months.

Arthur Lok Jack, chairman of Caribbean
Airlines, said last week that in this interim period Air Jamaica would be reinstating its flights from Kingston to Grand Cayman.
That route was suspended on 23 February 2009 as part of a package of cost-cutting
measures.

However, Bruce Nobles, chief
executive officer of Air Jamaica, said that it was premature to say that the
airline would be returning to Cayman in the foreseeable future.

Caribbean Airlines said that the
carrier would continue to serve routes between New York
to Montego Bay and Kingston as well as services
between Baltimore, Philadelphia,
Fort Lauderdale and Montego Bay and Toronto and Fort Lauderdale
to Kingston.

Ownership

The Jamaican government has been
offered 16 per cent ownership in Caribbean Airlines in return for transferring
these routes to the Trinidad company, who has said it will keep on the 1,000 employees
of Air Jamaica for the time being.

It will also invest US$50 million,
provided by the government of Trinidad and Tobago, to capitalise the transition
arrangements.

The Jamaican government, however,
will retain all ownership of Air Jamaica’s real estate and industrial assets as
well as assuming all legacy debts, but will not take on any other financial obligations.

Air Jamaica will continue to be the
operating entity for the flights.

The carrier’s counsel George
Carneal said that ownership and control issues were still to be confirmed, and
that assumption of financial responsibility for an airline’s operations was not
tantamount to being that airline.

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