Effective today, December 23, 2004, the Government of Jamaica will assume full responsibility of Air Jamaica, Dr. Omar Davies, Minister of Finance, announced today in a press conference.ÊCiting the challenges facing Air Jamaica, including the airline’s debt to the Government and other creditors, compounded by the difficulties facing the airline industry worldwide, the Government of Jamaica and the former majority shareholder agreed to reorganize the airline.
“The Government of Jamaica has consistently maintained its commitment to the national airline, however, the administration has no desire to retain permanent ownership and control of Air Jamaica. Our common objective is to ensure that the airline is made viable, whilst maintaining the excellent standards already established under the Chairmanship of the Hon. Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart,” stated Dr. Omar Davies. “Our action at this time to restructure the entity, so that it will be able to attract adequate equity capital from private investors, has been taken in the interest of the national economy.”
Dr. the Hon. Vincent Lawrence, who represented the Government on the Air Jamaica board over the last eight years, has been appointed interim Executive Chairman of the new board. His priority mandate is to oversee the restructuring activity and to recruit and appoint an appropriately qualified CEO with extensive airline experience.
He will be supported by Mr. Aubyn Hill, former Managing Director of one of the island’s largest commercial banks. Mr. Hill will head the restructuring office, which has responsibility for developing and implementing the new structure for the airline.ÊÊ
The Minister said there would be no disruption of any sort to Air Jamaica’s Operations and the transition will be seamless. He says the outgoing Chairman has given his personal commitment that he and members of his team are available to work with the Government of Jamaica in whatever way possible to ensure the success of Air Jamaica and continuation of business as usual.
The new Executive Chairman says the airline will continue to maintain its obligations to the traveling public and all schedules, ticket purchases, agreements with travel agents and other partners are valid and will be honoured.