Fri | Dec 13, 2019

Ode to our Lovebird

Published:Monday | May 3, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, SIr:

"Now that she is no more, let all in the room who took her for a free ride show your hands." I am sure that, were that directive issued in the halls of power in Jamaica, there would be deafening silence among some prominent individuals amongst us.

Air Jamaica, in good times and bad times, became a respected institution among patriotic Jamaicans. The people were at times prepared to continue to patronise Air Jamaica notwithstanding the luggage loss, long delays and cancellations because it was seen as our piece of Jamaica in the skies. Even when it was provable, that her employment policy made black-skin girls ineligible to serve coffee on board for decades, the Lovebird received broad support from our people, both here and in the diaspora.

Part of a proud history

Her on-board transatlantic fashion shows, her peacock beauty as she proudly adorned the tarmac of several airports and her enviable safety record, piloted by her native skilled sons and daughters, are now mere records of part of our proud history as she took her final landing on midnight, April 30. In her 42 year life-span, her premature ending was in my humble opinion, the result of my grandma's words "there are no free rides in life".

Left to the ordinary folk, who filled her seats as informal commercial importers or simply frequent flyers to see relatives in Florida, New York and London over the years, she would still be airborne. But no, there were others who saw her as their mistress, hatched to satisfy their lust for big profits. Finally, when their side of the balance sheet was satisfied, they abandoned their lame mistress and she was left to be the burden of the taxpayers who paid every time they went on board.

Too burdened

How long could a poor country's national airline maintain the scandalous number of non-revenue, first-class free-riders, the Lovebird had to welcome aboard? In the end run she became too burdened to fly.

Good bye Lovebird, you and I know you took us safely to and from the air, to and from Jamaica for four decades. And if you could talk you would be able to name all those who took you for a free ride before you became a deserted mistress. May your wings rest in peace.

I am, etc.,

BERT S SAMUELS

bert.samuels@gmail.com

Attorney-at-law and former Air Jamaica Cargo employee