Sever ties with Jamaica


There is a growing segment of the Trinidad and Tobago public clamouring for its home-based regional airline, Caribbean Airlines (CAL), to sever links with Jamaica in the wake of mounting losses.

Some segments of the public blame the loss-making routes in and out of Jamaica for the increasing operational deficit being incurred by CAL over the years since it bought Jamaica’s then national carrier, Air Jamaica, in 2010.

CAL’s accumulated losses is now estimated at US$454.5 million (over TT$3 billion), while posting a TT$172.7 million ($26 million) loss for the first quarter 2021 added to the operating loss of TT$738 million (USD108.5 million) booked in 2020.

In addition, there was a 75 per cent decline in revenue, compared to the same three months in 2020. In 2010, the Government of Jamaica agreed with CAL that it would designate it the exclusive national carrier of Jamaica when it bought Air Jamaica.

The Jamaican Government committed that it will not request designation of national carrier status for any other air carrier for as long as CAL’s Jamaican operations maintain a minimum level of service and meet certain other criteria.

One Trinidadian, John Jessamy, writing in the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, commented that CAL’s, “agreement with Jamaica was a disaster.” He wrote that, “as recent as May CAL signed an agreement to absorb 1,000 Jamaicans as pilots, cabin attendants, maintenance engineers and ground staff, while the T&T Treasury is bearing this burden while Jamaica is laughing all the way to the bank.”

Jessamy emphasised that from June 2020 to now, Jamaica has recorded a total of 816,632 stopover visitors and generated in excess of US$1.31 billion, questioning whether CAL got a fraction of that money.

In responding to his question, the Trinidadian contended, “we stand all expenses and Jamaica waits for its share of the profits at the end of the year. That’s ludicrous. CAL surely needs restructuring. The first thing to do is sever the link with Jamaica.”

He charged that since CAL was formed in 2006, it has not made a profit of any real value but continues to receive a handout from the Ministry of Finance annually.

In dealing with the financial crisis at the airline, Jessamy is suggesting that CAL forge an alliance with LIAT and service the entire Caribbean with only ATR turboprop planes. He was adamant that Jamaica should not be in this partnership, arguing that Kingston “is only interested in international travellers to fund its tourism product. It is about time we get this monkey off our backs.”

Interestingly, CAL is 88.1 per cent owned by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago with the Jamaican Government holding the remaining 11.9 per cent. The airline operates bases at both Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago) and Kingston’s Norman Manley (Jamaica).

CAL holds 8.42 per cent market share at Kingston City Norman Manley International in terms of weekly airline seats, third in line after JetBlue Airways (B6, New York JFK) with 49.12 per cent and American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth) with 9.66 per cent.

Jessamy’s sentiments about CAL delinking with Jamaica is shared by several members of the society; some among them in Parliament. Pronouncements by several Trinidadians suggested that they see Jamaica as being an albatross around the neck of the T&T-based airline ever since its purchase of Air Jamaica.

There has been no response from the Dr Keith Rowley-led Trinidad Government about talks of CAL severing ties with Jamaica, but the Administration has announced a restructuring of its operations at both bases in Jamaica and T&T.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert told Parliament two week ago that, “Caribbean Airlines’ restructuring will be taken in both countries in the best interest of the airline.” — Jamaica Observer

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  1. The headline sums up the very thing that the UPP wants Richard Lewis to do when it comes to his wife. Imagine being looked at as unworthy by your fellow party members because of your wife’s nationality.

    • Why the f**k you all like to bring people’s personal matters into politics? Have you heard anyone from the UPP tell Richard Lewis to leave his wife because she’s Jamaican? Aru r**hole sick darg f**king tummuck.

  2. Jamaica is all about themselves, they care nothing for regional integration unless it allows their people to get jobs in other islands, and escape the poverty and crime of Jamaica. So it’s better for CAL to get rid of them, and have a partnership with cash strapped struggling LIAT. This will allow for better travel among the eastern Caribbean and the US, and be good for Antigua and travel going forward.

  3. I wish Antigua would ban all visitors and immigrants from Jamaica.

    Antigua’s crime rates are going up so very high recently, we all know why.

  4. Bad mind really born in some of us may God help this nation before the devil take over his children.

  5. CAL needs a welcome change of livery maybe then passengers would be drawn to flying the airline. Jet Blue goes everywhere in the US, Caribbean has limited destinations. Yes severe ties with Jamaica we don’t do much inter Caribbean travel and options to North American are many. You guys hate on Jamaica at every opportunity possible.

  6. I am a Trinidadian who used to live in Kingston, Jamaica in the 80s during the height of the TT oil bonanza. We all recall our then PM Dr. Eric Williams saying that, ” MONEY IS NOT NOW A PROBLEM. IT’S HOW TO SPEND IT!” Well I can tell you first hand that Jamaicans scoff at us and I well remember the derogatory expression they often used at that time to describe us, which was as follows: ” Tinidadians have more dollars than SENSE!”

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