Gov’t satisfied with Air Jamaica deal – Minister

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, has announced that the government is satisfied that the partnership with Caribbean Airlines meets the objectives of the Air Jamaica Divestment Project and protects the interests of the government and Jamaica as a whole.

In a statement in the House of Representatives last week, Shaw said the financial deal between the government and Caribbean Airlines is fair and “from the point of view of the government, is even superior to the ones contemplated in the initial Caribbean Airlines’ bid or by the other bidder”.

Stating that the interests of the Air Jamaica passengers have been protected, the minister said that Caribbean Airlines has strong airline expertise and appropriate capital.

“The partnership will ensure the provision of adequate and sustainable airlift to and from Jamaica, which remains a favoured tourist destination and the cash drain on the government’s resources associated with the financial obligations to Jamaica’s national airline will cease,” said Shaw.

On May 1, the Trinidad and Tobago-owned Caribbean Airlines took over financial responsibility for Air Jamaica. After a period of between six and 12 months, Caribbean Airlines will fully enforce its plan to provide sustainable airlift to and from Jamaica.

With the sale of Air Jamaica, the government has assumed responsibility of the total debt of the airline, which amounts to US$939.99 million as of February 10, 2010.

The amount comprises guaranteed obligations of US$763.44 million and non-guaranteed obligations of US$176.55 million.

“Of the guaranteed obligations, the central government is currently servicing debts totalling US$407.42 million,” said Shaw.

In addition, Shaw expressed his appreciation to all who supported Air Jamaica over the years, including the employees, and encouraged those who have found employment with Caribbean Airlines to provide an equal level of service. (JIS)

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