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Grave insult

Published:Friday | February 5, 2010 | 12:00 AM

An Air Jamaica airliner takes off from a foreign airport.

Open letter to the nation of Trinidad and Tobago from a Jamaican.

It is general knowledge that Caribbean Airlines is in negotiations with the Air Jamaica Divestment Board regarding the 'handover' of Air Jamaica to Caribbean Airlines. This letter is written to you, Prime Minister Manning and the people of Trinidad and Tobago, on behalf of the great majority of the citizens of Jamaica in Jamaica, as well as the Jamaican diaspora throughout the world.

We are asking that the present negotiation with the Government of Jamaica be terminated to enable us to purchase the airline. We believe that the planned divestment to Caribbean Airlines, when there are Jamaicans who have the knowledge, capacity and capability of taking control of the airline at this time, is a grave insult to our people.

While we understand the need and vision for one Caribbean airline, we do not believe that the takeover of Air Jamaica in the current manner will allow that dream to be realised, and if continued, will ultimately erode the relationship between our two Caribbean nations. More important, this will prove to be an economic disaster to Caribbean Airlines. We promise that, and the Jamaican diaspora has also indicated no support for that operation.

Show of respect

We understand that on two previous occasions Air Jamaica began operations to Trinidad, spending and investing heavily on the start-up of that route, only to have it discontinued at the request of the former BWIA and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago at that time. This clearly showed Trinidad's desire to protect their national airline. The fact that Air Jamaica complied with your request, and ceased operation to Trinidad, showed Jamaica and Air Jamaica's respect for your national concern. As Jamaicans, we request and expect no less from the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago at this time.

Economic disadvantages

The purpose of this letter is not to outline the many economic disadvantages to Jamaica if Caribbean Airlines pursues this course of action, rather, the purpose of this letter is to request that you respect the wishes of the Jamaican people and ensure that Caribbean Airlines withdraws its bid for Air Jamaica and so facilitate the rights of Jamaicans to own their Airline.

A large contingent of us have decided that we will be seeking legal counsel, even to the extent of the Privy Council, aided by our diaspora in Britain, to ensure that the needs of Jamaica and the Jamaica people are not violated in this matter.

We look forward and anticipate the full cooperation of the people of Trinidad and Tobago in this matter.

I am, etc.,