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JEA hunts cargo carriers to replace Air Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | March 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Jamaica Exporters' Association (JEA) is now looking to secure new cargo carriers to move produce out of Jamaica, business that up to now has been handled by Air Jamaica.

But the exporters say Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) is not among the options now under consideration, though the airline is acquiring five of Air Jamaica's most profitable routes.

Wednesday Business understands from informed sources that the Air J routes likely to be retained by the Trinidad carrier are Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, New York, and Philadelphia in the United States, and Toronto, Canada.

"Our main concern at the JEA is that Air Jamaica prices were very attractive compared with the other carriers," said vice-president Michael Ming at a press confe-rence held by the association in Kingston Tuesday.

"With the loss of Air Jamaica, we have initiated discussions with other carriers which have shown an interest."

JEA director David Yee Sing later told Wednesday Business that the exporters have got no indication from CAL whether it would continue the cargo operations.

"The new owners have not made any contact with any members to indicate that they will continue cargo movement," he said.

In search of best price

The association says its discussions are with Virgin Atlantic, which flies into the United Kingdom, Amerijet, and Go Global, among others.

Marjorie Kennedy, former president of the JEA, said the group was receptive to any carrier that offers a good rate.

"As good business people, I am sure that they are going to be coming out and being aggressive in the market," she said of Caribbean Airlines. "We want the best price, best service, because sometimes price is not the only thing, service is key."

Yee Sing said the Air Jamaica rates were very competitive for exporters.

Air Jamaica's online rate calculator quotes average daily shipment rates from Kingston to New York at US$2,132 per 1,000 kilogrammes.

Air Jamaica CEO Bruce Nobles was unavailable Tuesday, but Ming said the carrier moved in the region of 2.2 million kilogrammes of cargo out of Jamaica last year.