Air J Suspends Service to Belize

AIR Jamaica`s services to Belize will be suspended on Monday, June 2, the airline announced yesterday.

Executive vice-president and chief revenue officer, John Lewis, in a statement, says passenger bookings and yields on the route are too low for the continuation of this service.

Passengers holding confirmed bookings on any flight to Belize after June 1 will be accommodated on other airlines, the statement said.

Air Jamaica began service to Belize in November last year. “At first the route showed much promise, but suffered major setbacks with the build-up to war between the United States and Iraq,” said the airline.

It added that since early March it has instituted a number of measures aimed at cutting costs and trying to keep the airline afloat as the crisis in the airline industry deepened.


Said the airline: :The first move included staff reductions, salary give-backs and operational and aircraft lease costs which yielded savings of $880 million. The company`s tour arm Air Jamaica Vacations also saved over $336 million from staff cutbacks and a reorganisation of its operations.”

In late March, the company introduced another round of cost-cutting measures with a series of schedule reductions and flight cancellations in an effort to save $240 million in operational costs.

Deputy Chairman and CEO of Air Jamaica, Christopher Zacca, said then that Air Jamaica would continue to make prudent decisions that will help guarantee the viability of the airline.

According to the Air Jamaica statement, last month the Air Transport Association (ATA) reported that airlines continued to see significant declines in traffic from last year`s depressed levels. System-wide revenue passenger miles for the week ended April 20, it said, were down 10.5 per cent, compared with the same period in 2002. Traffic declines in the Atlantic and Pacific regions were even worse with revenue passenger miles down 25.8 per cent and 39.6 per cent, respectively, compared with the same week last year.

ATA President, James May, has blamed the weak US economy and concerns over the SARS virus for the worsened state in the industry. He says many airlines continue to reduce their capacity to lower operating costs and deal with the fall-out in the industry.