PM sad to see Air Jamaica go, but positive about future of Jamaica holidays under the new merger
As Air Jamaica was finally taken over by Caribbean Airlines, Jamaica's Prime Minister marked the ocassion by making a public speech praising and thanking Air Jamaica staff for their 40 years of commitment and hard work as the country's national carrier.
Commenting on the future of Jamaica holidays after the national airline has finally been taken over by Caribbean Airlines, Jamaica's Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, released a statement on the eve of Air Jamaica's transition from a national airline to becoming part of the regional carrier. He used this opportunity to extend his "sincere and heartfelt appreciation" to those who served the airline over its 40 years of existence.
"You have an enviable safety and service record. As staff and management of Air Jamaica, you have served your country well and all Jamaica is proud of you," Golding said. He added that for 40 years "it was an act of daring" for a small country like Jamaica to conceive of creating a national airline.
"We did, and over the years this 'little piece of Jamaica that flies' has become a source of pride to Jamaicans at home and abroad," Golding noted.
However, he pointed out that pride came at a huge cost - $126 billion over the 40 years and $31 billion over the last three years alone - as among other things, the international airline industry has come under tremendous pressure from rising costs and intense competition. "Many airlines have gone under and, in our case, keeping Air Jamaica flying has placed a huge burden on government's scarce resources, only made worse by the global recession," the Prime Minister explained.
He said that the government had to take the regrettable, but inevitable, decision when it could no longer provide the financial support required to keep Air Jamaica flying. But, on a more hopeful note he said that the future of Jamaica holidays looked hopeful under the new transition as Jamaica had been fortunate to be able to transfer majority ownership to a regional carrier, which will operate the routes that are of the greatest importance to the Jamaica holidays market and visitors to Jamaica in general.
He went on to explain how for the benefit of Jamaica holidays, the government of Jamaica would still retain minority ownership in all of Caribbean Airlines, not just the Jamaican operations, but from a safer position as it will not be required to absorb any losses or provide any capital.
Praising Air Jamaica staff on a last note of thank you the PM added – “On behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica, I want to extend my sincere and heartfelt appreciation to all who have kept Air Jamaica flying over these forty years. Today we clap our pilots, our crew, our ground staff, managers, and directors but not necessarily for the last time. Many of you will assume positions with Caribbean Airlines and we are confident that you will display the same level of commitment and professionalism that you gave to Air Jamaica. “
He added that this was not necessarily the end of the dream that led Jamaica holidays to create their own airline in 1968. "That was part of a larger dream of a prosperous Jamaica providing a better life for all Jamaicans. Let us use this as an opportunity to place our country firmly on a path to fulfilling that dream where our people can enjoy a way of life that will be the greatest source of our national pride" - the PM reassured on an encouraging last note.
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