Canadian, Jamaican PMs praise CanJet handling


The prime minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding, spoke in Montego Bay, Jamaica on Monday at Sangster International Airport, along with his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, to recognize the successful handling of the situation involving the CanJet Boeing 737-800. Both commended the personal bravery and professionalism of all involved.

Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding had high praises for the members of the island’s security team (Police and JDF) who played a pivotal role in bringing the ordeal to a peaceful end. The joint security team successfully disarmed the gunman who is now in custody and being interrogated by authorities.

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Sangster International Airport in Jamaica’s resort capital of Montego Bay was closed due to an incident involving a mentally challenged armed man who boarded and hijacked CanJet flight 918 at approximately 22:30 CDT on Sunday, April 19. The flight was due to travel from Montego Bay to Santa Clara, Cuba. The aircraft, a Boeing 737-800, which carries 189 passengers, was operated for Transat Tours Canada.

For his part, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was in Jamaica for a three-day working visit, also praised the island’s security for their competency in bringing the stand-off to a peaceful resolution.

In his remarks, Prime Minister Harper expressed his gratitude to Jamaica’s Prime Minister for his personal engagement in the matter and the crew of CanJet flight 918. “Today is a day to be truly joyful. It’s very rare we have events like this that end so well,” Harper said on Monday.

Prime Minister Golding told journalists that he has ordered an immediate investigation by the Ministry of Transport and Works, the Civil Aviation Authority and relevant agencies. “We have an unblemished record of airline and airport safety. We have never had anything of this kind in Jamaica before and it’s a record we are determined must be protected and preserved,” Golding said.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister also announced the goodwill gesture by hotelier Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart who has offered all passengers and crew a one-week stay at any Sandals resort in Jamaica at any time they are prepared.

Wayne Cummings, president of the Jamaica Hotel & Tourism Association, said, “This gesture by Mr. Stewart is indicative of the level of cooperation that exits between the public and private sectors in Jamaica. Our combined goal is to provide unparalleled hospitality to all who visit our shores.”

As of press time on Monday morning, a CanJet aircraft is en-route from Montreal via Toronto to Montego Bay to take passengers and crew on to Santa Clara, Cuba, or back to Canada should they wish to return home.