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LETTER OF THE DAY - The Air Jamaica saga continues

Published:Friday | January 29, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

One of my deepest disappointments with the current Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration is its lack of transparency and credibility - issues which were pivotal to its election campaign of 2007. Air Jamaica's sale is one such issue.

Issues regarding its divestment and its prospective buyers normally gets to the public via media speculation or when a government minister or spokesperson is 'forced on the back foot' to defend information already in the public domain.

The prime minister, in his 'Jamaica House Live' broadcast on Wednesday, January 27, noted that IndiGo Partners, operators of Spirit Airlines', proposal for the purchase of the Love Bird, was not considered because it was "not in the best interest of Jamaica. It wouldn't have given us the airlift ... those critical routes that are important to Jamaicans who want to travel and to our tourist visitors who need to come here." This revelation comes months after the deal was scuttled.

Does the Caribbean Airline negotiation offer these guarantees? We need to know also and, in addition, will pose the following questions:

Will Caribbean Airlines (formerly BWIA) act in our national interest to:

Protect the close to 10,000 jobs of airline staff, ground transportation, hotel workers, farmers, farm workers and students who travel on it.

Will Government still be 'saddled' with the huge US$1 billion-plus debt, irrespective of who buys the airline.

Has Caribbean Airlines paid severance pay to the former employees of BWIA, its predecessor, some three years after its name change?

Has its financial records been audited for the last three years?

Is it a fact that Air Jamaica currently operates at a profit, due in no small way, to cost-saving measures put forward by the employees of the airline?

That $70 million was saved due to these measures last year:

That government would be spared $25 million in severance pay if the Jamaica Airline Pilots Association proposal is accepted?

That Jamaicans at home and in the diaspora are willing to put up money to save the Love Bird to keep it in Jamaican hands.

At a time when countries across the globe are engaged in building their indigenous capacities, as one way of fighting the current economic downturn, we continue to look outside of our own people for our salvation.

One of my favourite R&B crooners, Barry White, had a line in one of his songs which is apt for this administration, 'Practise what you preach'.

I am, etc.,