KINGSTON, Jamaica (eTN) – Air Jamaica has unveiled its 2009 “Business Plan,” which is designed to respond to the current global economic downturn, quickly stem the substantial cash losses at the company, and position the airline on a path to financial stability going forward.
The goal of the 2009 “Business Plan” is to eliminate cash losses by exiting loss-making markets and revising schedules in others, improving aircraft utilization by more than 25 percent, and executing an efficiency plan that will improve productivity and bring Air Jamaica’s unit costs in line with international norms.
“This is a pivotal year for Air Jamaica, as we must become a lean and efficient airline to survive these difficult times,” said Bruce R. Nobles, President and CEO. “This business plan requires a singular focus on rationalizing operational, infrastructure and overhead costs”.
The Board of Directors of Air Jamaica, the minister of Finance, and the cabinet have approved the plan. Senator the Hon. Don Wehby, minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance with responsibility for Air Jamaica, has reviewed the plan in detail and fully supports the strategy.
Effective February 26, 2009, Air Jamaica will exit Atlanta, Los Angeles, Grand Cayman, and Miami, and will discontinue service between Jamaica and Barbados and Jamaica and Grenada. This will result in the closure of the affected stations and reductions in the work force, accordingly.
With these changes the airline’s fleet will be reduced to nine aircraft, the appropriate number required to efficiently operate the new schedule. The airline will restructure existing leases and negotiate aircraft returns to accomplish this result.
“These decisions were not arrived at easily, and reflect a commitment to the people of Jamaica that we will do everything to reduce the airline’s impact on the national budget – something that is certainly even more important now as the country navigates through the global financial crisis,” said Mr. Nobles.
Air Jamaica’s new schedule has 218 weekly flights to 14 destinations, with service between Jamaica and Toronto, New York (JFK), Chicago (O’Hare), Baltimore, Philadelphia, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Curacao, Nassau, and Havana, as well as service between New York and Barbados and New York and Grenada.
“In our 40-year history as Jamaica’s flag carrier, this is without question our most challenging time. We are doing everything possible to minimize the impact on the Air Jamaica family, including voluntary redundancies and leaves of absence,” said Mr. Nobles. “Even tougher times may be ahead, but I believe that we have the energy and imagination required to become the kind of airline that will have a future for many years to come.”
The government of Jamaica is in the process of privatizing the airline to meet a March 2009 deadline, and a sub-committee of the board of directors is engaged in talks with potential investors. The divestment committee of the Air Jamaica board also believes that a successful execution of the 2009 Business Plan will enhance the attractiveness of Air Jamaica to investors and will speed up the privatization process.