Air Jamaica will retain its brand in its new partnership with Caribbean Airlines.
Severe economic challenges forced the airline to shift control of its operations to Caribbean Airlines last year. As part of the change-over, Caribbean Airlines assumed full financial responsibility for Air Jamaica with the Jamaican government transferring the airline’s routes for a 16 per cent ownership of Caribbean Airlines.
Air Jamaica now has a US$80 million equity stake in Caribbean Airlines’ US$500 million equity base.
Air Jamaica executive William Rodgers said the Caribbean Airlines brand was being considered as the sole trademark during the transition process.
“That was where we were heading, but somewhere along the line we said why destroy a brand that is well known and well endeared not only by the people of Jamaica, but throughout the world,” Rodgers, Air Jamaica’s senior director of government and community affairs, said in Toronto last week.
Jamaica’s Consul General in Toronto George Ramocan welcomed the announcement.
“I think this is a wonderful development for the Caribbean region,” said Ramocan. “Today we feel a sense of pride and excitement. This is a new day for this fantastic airline that has been a real star in the aviation world.”
The CARICOM Consular Corps in Toronto was represented at the rebranding announcement by Grenada’s honorary Consul General in Toronto, Jenny Gumbs; Guyana’s acting honorary Consul General Sattie Sawh and Trinidad & Tobago acting Consul General Kathy Radoo.
“In the present international arena, the airline industry is one that faces numerous challenges,” said Radoo. “The Caribbean region has not been immune to this. However, as a region, we have recognized that we cannot rely solely on foreign carriers that do not necessarily have our best interests at heart to provide air linkages for our nationals and business people.
“The Caribbean Airlines and Air Jamaica brands, which are recognized globally for high quality service, are there to ensure that the best interests of our people are protected.”
Rodgers said Air Jamaica will continue to serve the leisure and tourism markets while Caribbean Airlines will focus primarily on commercial traffic and emerging South & Latin America destinations.
He added that Air Jamaica will resume thrice-weekly service to London in July. In 2007, the government sold the Kingston-to-London route to Virgin Atlantic.
As part of its rebirth, Air Jamaica is offering one-way fares between Kingston and Toronto in its Lovebird Economy class, starting at $180. Complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are available in this class and passengers are allowed two pieces of checked baggage up to 50 lbs. each and one carry-on item. The airline’s 7th Heaven Rewards Frequent Flyer program members will accrue miles when booking this fare.
Air Jamaica resumed service to Toronto seven years ago after a 13-year absence.
Air Jamaica’s Toronto service was suspended in 1990 after 18 years because of extremely high fuel prices and inadequate equipment. Air Canada filled the breach, servicing the route through a code share agreement with Air Jamaica.
The Toronto route has been financially viable for the airline which operates six daily non-stop flights between this city and Kingston, Jamaica.