AJSAG Objects To Granting Of Waiver Under The Open Skies <


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AJSAG Objects To Granting Of Waiver Under The Open Skies

Daniel Guevarra    (see Air Jamaica To Be Taken Over By Caribbean Airlines)

February 27, 2010 - Kingston, Jamaica - Air Jamaica Staff Acquisition Group (AJSAG), has been informed that the Government of Jamaica, in pursuit of the privatization of Air Jamaica to Caribbean Airlines, has recently filed a request with the United States (US) authorities seeking a waiver of certain requirements under the Open Skies Agreement between Jamaica and the United States.

Which stipulates that airlines designated by either party under the Open Skies Agreement must be substantially owned and operated by nationals of the requesting party. 

The AJSAG understands that the granting of the waiver of the nationality requirement is a pre condition for the successful conclusion of the negotiations.  

Based on the information received, AJSAG understands further, that the government is considering the designation of Caribbean Airlines as the exclusive national carrier of Jamaica. AJSAG objects to any such grant of exclusivity or waiver of the nationality requirements as this would exclude the possibility of any Jamaican entity operating service under the U.S/Jamaica Bilateral Air Transport Agreement.

The Group takes this opportunity to serve notice on the Government of Jamaica and Caribbean Airlines that it intends to take legal action to protect Jamaica’s national interest under the Open Skies Agreement, as well as the interest of all employees. 

Air Jamaica was established in October 1968 and started operations on 1 April 1969, connecting Kingston and Montego Bay, with New York and Miami. At that time the Jamaican government owned a substantial part of the airline, with Air Canada owning a minor share and providing technical, maintenance and logistical help. 

During the 1970s, Air Jamaica expanded rapidly. Flights were added to Toronto and Montreal in Canada, to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Puerto Rico, to Philadelphia and many other destinations, especially across the Caribbean. Long-haul services to Europe were started on 1 April 1974. 


During the 1980s, growth slowed. Nevertheless, new routes were still opened, to Baltimore and Atlanta. During the 1990s Air Jamaica continued to expand: the airline took over the Kingston-Nassau, Bahamas route, which had been left by British Airways, began a code sharing agreement with Delta Air Lines and opened routes to Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix (which was later dropped), and to Frankfurt, London, Manchester, Santo Domingo and Ft. Lauderdale. The route to Phoenix was opened because Air Jamaica was looking for expansion in the American West, beyond its route to Los Angeles.  

In 1994 the company was partially privatized, with the government retaining 25% of the company and giving 5% of it to the airline's employees. In December 2004, after financial losses, the Government of Jamaica took back full ownership of Air Jamaica. It employed 2,522 as of March 2007. The last private owner was Gordon Stewart, chairman and founder of Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts. 

In September 2007, the new Jamaican government began to consider privatization of Air Jamaica. Likely investors at the time were China National Aviation Holding Company (parent company of Air China), Delta Air Lines, Virgin Group (parent company of Virgin Atlantic Airways), Iberia Airlines (the national airline of Spain), Emirates and Caribbean Airlines. 

In December 2009, it was reported that the Prime Minister of Jamaica had recently approach the Government of Trinidad and Tobago regarding a possible merger or acquisition by Caribbean Airlines. 

It has now been decided that Air Jamaica will be sold to Caribbean Airlines of Trinidad and Tobago. They will acquire the airline's fleet and route rights and will open a new hub at Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport. The acquisition will make Caribbean Airlines the largest airline in the Caribbean.

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