Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
Finally! After nearly 11 months of painstaking evaluation and working tirelessly to meet the requirements of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), Fly Jamaica Airways can now officially take to the skies.
Fly Jamaica Airways was recently presented with their Air Operating Certificate (AOC), which means they now have the licence to operate as an airline. According to Director General of the JCAA Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Derby, the major part of the process has been completed and the final demonstration conducted on Friday, August 24, brought together all the elements that were tested before.
Prior to the presentation of AOC certification, the Boeing 757 aircraft came under heavy scrutiny and was thoroughly inspected to ensure that the required support systems and services were in place. Fly Jamaica also had to conduct a demonstration flight to Guyana to show that they could operate as a normal commercial flight.
"It is the first time that we have had to certify a jet airline from start to finish, and we are happy that they have concluded this process. It was a long process to make sure the airline met all the requirements and can be sustainable in the market," Derby said.
Lieutenant Colonel Egbert Field, project manager for the certification process, said, from the pre-application phase to the demonstration and inspection phase, Fly Jamaica had to ensure that all the steps were in accordance with JCAA and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
"All inspection reports met the stipulated requirements as demanded by the ICAO. We will now have them under surveillance in which we will observe and mentor them. We will teach things that they may not be versed in and ensure that they adhere to the mandate they should operate under," Field said.
a dream since 1982
Meanwhile, Guyanese Paul Ronald Reece, chief executive officer of Fly Jamaica Airways, said, after wanting to start an airline since 1982, he considers it a privilege to set up operations and serve Jamaican. Reece is the owner of Wings Aviation Inc, based in Guyana.
This is the final leg on the route of requirements by the JCAA, however, because the aircraft is registered in the United States, Fly Jamaica Airways will now have to apply for permission to operate in that country. This process should take about 30 to 45 days and, if all goes well, flight operations should begin by October.
"We now have to satisfy the International Air Transport Association and the Federal Aviation Administration to operate a US-operated aircraft. Hopefully, it won't be a long process, Reece said.
The man at the helm of the operations in Jamaica, Chief Operating Officer Captain Lloyd Tai, credited the Fly Jamaica team for getting the job done. "We are thrilled and excited at the fact that we had the tenacity to get it done. The Jamaicans and the Guyanese have a real bond and we will continue to work together. Whatever the standards are, we will improve on them and surpass them," Tai said.
Fly Jamaica Airways is a partnership between Reece and three Jamaican shareholders, including Tai and manager of in-flight services, Christine Steele.