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LETTER OF THE DAY - Air Jamaica' s safety record

Published:Wednesday | February 10, 2010 | 12:00 AM


As a former airline employee with a large US carrier, it was known that the most important aspect of an airline's carriage is its safety record. Air Jamaica stands out as the safest airline in the world and is regarded highly by other carriers for this enviable record. This is a marketable piece of information of which Air Jamaica has not made much in providing seats to the various destinations.

The truth is that if Air Jamaica cleans up its act and truly markets its intangible assets, it can be a profitable airline. However, it is not so much Air Jamaica that is in trouble like Jamaica itself. Air Jamaica's problems are a microcosm of the country it represents. All things considered, the Government is now convinced that it is unable to change the course of this ungovernable nation - Jamaica, then Air Jamaica's sale to Trinidad may be a real signal of that hopelessness.

Compromising the airline's safety

Should the airline be sold to Trinidad who, we have been advised, will immediately gut it of approximately 500 employees, we can be sure that the absence of these trained and competent staff will undoubtedly compromise the unblemished safety record. It would then be prudent that the name Air Jamaica should no longer be associated with the airline. People buy airline seats because of the emotional need to feel safe and cared for first. They look at direct travel to destination, another safety issue, and then price. Anyone wants to wager that Air Jamaica will sell seats more readily than any much larger carrier with connections which has had recent crashes, even if their seats are cheaper?

Air Jamaica, staffed by Jamaicans, understands the vagaries of the Jamaican people who travel to and from Jamaica for love of country and relatives - bringing gifts which help the economy. Air Jamaica is truly our 'lovebird'. In selling to people other than Jamaicans, one cannot begin to measure the emotional goodwill that will be suddenly lost. It will be like a mother losing her child.

The late Kenneth Rattray, former attorney general and an expert on aviation law, who had much to do with Air Jamaica, once said, "Jamaica should do everything to keep Air Jamaica as it is the one thing that speaks deepest to Jamaica's sovereignty."

We keep selling out our patrimony for the "mess of pottage" because we do not know the value of Jamaica and things Jamaican. If the pilots and staffers are willing, there is probably no one who will be able to do a better job of wooing passengers to travel with the airline or make sacrifices to secure their investment.

Unless there is another agenda for selling Air Jamaica to Trinidad (which seems to be causing quite a stir among Trinidadians) or any other entity, please let's give the people with the greatest interest in Air Jamaica an opportunity to save our 100 per cent Jamaican airline for the sake of Jamaica, land we love.

I am, etc.,

Yvonne O. Coke

2 Acacia Avenue

Kingston 5