Jamaica PM tells pilots Caribbean Airlines first

KINGSTON, Jamaica, January 29, 2010 – An attempt by airline pilots to take over Air Jamaica is something that Prime Minister Bruce Golding says he will consider only if the current negotiations with Trinidad and Tobago’s Caribbean Airlines fall through.

The Jamaica Airline Pilots’ Association (JALPA) has submitted another business proposal for ownership of the national carrier. It presented an offer last week but Golding found it inadequate and gave them time to amend it.

Golding said he has received the second proposal, but suggested Caribbean Airlines was the preferred purchaser at this stage.

“If the negotiations with Caribbean Airlines do not lead to an agreement, we would be in a position to look at the business plan that has been submitted by the Jamaica Airline Pilots Association,” he said.

“We have gathered enough experience in this divestment exercise that has been going on for over a year, looking at all the due diligence that has been done, the analysis of the financial evaluation and so on. We know what to look for to ensure that it is a proposal that can be sustained.”

The Prime Minister sought to make it clear that after Air Jamaica is sold, the government would not be giving any financial support to the buyer.

“Once we dispose of Air Jamaica, there is no possibility to come back to the government. The budget cannot take it,” he said.

JALPA and the staff of Air Jamaica have been pressing government to keep the national airline in local hands.