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LETTER OF THE DAY - Jamaican in name only

Published:Monday | February 8, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

I support the Government's decision to fully privatise Air Jamaica and remove the financial burden from Jamaican taxpayers.

The Trinidadians and Caribbean Airlines seem to be the front-runners to take over the Jamaican Lovebird and I wish them well. I'd like to give them a bit of advice to ensure their takeover of Air Jamaica is successful in both the short and long term.

My first bit of advice assumes that the Trinidadians see the name 'Air Jamaica' as the 44-year-old brand it is, and keep it after their acquisition.Keeping the name Air Jamaica is, however, only a start. To guarantee long-term success and patronage by Jamaicans like myself all over the world, part of the airline has to remain Jamaican in more than just name.

Private Jamaicans must have an ownership stake in Air Jamaica. The roughly 50 per cent market share now enjoyed by Air Jamaica will quickly dwindle to 30 per cent or lower if Caribbean Airlines does not take this important step. That will make the survivability of the airline quite unlikely.

Jamaican buy-in

The Air Jamaican pilots and workers, if they can buy in without government support or guarantees, are the most obvious first groups that should be approached to take up a stake in Air Jamaica.The airline should also list on both the Jamaican and Caribbean stock exchanges to allow other Jamaicans who wish to buy in to do so.

Buying Air Jamaica is quite unlike the acquisition of the Caribbean Cement Company. Air Jamaica is a source of pride for Jamaicans, both in Jamaica and overseas who travel on the airline. If you don't believe me, just ask Jamaicans about the proud feeling they experience when they enter an airport terminal overseas and see the words, 'Air Jamaica' or see an Air Jamaica plane coming in for landing.

I am sure that the Trinidadian investors aligned with Caribbean Airlines are prudent business-men.I hope they will therefore take my advice into consideration while finalising the purchase deal with the Jamaican Government.

I am, etc.,