|The Spirit of Jamaica|
These days no such luck, travelling to Jamaica is like playing global pin-ball with various cities, you just bounce from one airport to the next like a mini bus from Half-Way-Tree to Papine. The Spirit and Jet Blue fights are now the America to Jamaica local as you stopped and idle in various North American airports before finally landing in Kingston. A friend of mine said she left Jamaica at 3:30 and did not get to Atlanta until 10PM. Another one said she had to go further up North to Chicago before she could head back in the Jamaica direction and even then only got home after several stops across North America in a series of up, down, drop off and pickup hopscotch type ride.
Air Jamaica might have been late sometimes but once they take off you knew they were heading straight for Jamaica as the maverick pilots utilize the Jet stream and wind direction to hitch a faster ride, It was not uncommon to leave late and arrive early.
We got rid of Air Jamaica to save money but it seems the money we saved we are now using it to import rubbish, ML-250 Benz, pink slime to make beef patty, imported banana Chips from north America, among other things, our food import bill is through the roof and most of things we are importing can be sourced locally in Jamaica. We sold Air Jamaica but the budget expenditure continues to sky rocket, we sold Air Jamaica but the tourist cannot find direct flights so they don’t bother coming. We sold Air Jamaica but we doubled the Notional debt from 850 billion to 1.6 Trillion.
I am beginning to believe that some services are worth paying for and keeping, the spin off benefits made life worth living and added value to our economy. Putting our trust in Trinidad was a big mistake, one we continue to make over and over again. For the record I was for the selling of Air Jamaica, a position I now totally regret, I assumed the savings would have made us stronger but it did not, we just buy more stuff.
I was totally against selling to Trinidad and now I can say …..I told you so!
Air Jamaica planes flew to such critical tourism marketplaces as Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Phoenix, Boston, Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Philadelphia, Newark, Toronto and London. This increased the number of passengers carried yearly to 62 per cent, accounting for the majority of the increase in tourism arrivals into Jamaica at the time. In fact, 52 per cent of tourists to the island arrived (Live and Direct!)on Air Jamaica .
Air Jamaica Operational Data:
- Air Jamaica began operation in 1969
- Air Jamaica Cost Jamaica US $200 Million to divest
- Air Jamaica adds to the Nation Budget US$150 Million per Annum
- Air Jamaica lost US $1 Billion in 10 Years
- Air Jamaica was US $500 Million in debt.
- Over the last two quarters of 2009 Air Jamaica made an operational profit
- At its peak, the airline carried 69 per cent of all persons travelling to Jamaica and 52 per cent of tourists visiting the island.
- Air Jamaica had an excellent safety record
- Air Jamaica won several major international awards, including 'Best Airline Servicing the Caribbean'
"Air Jamaica was a priceless national asset and I could foresee the enormous contribution it could make to tourism and the national economy,"
What made Air Jamaica, “Air Jamaica”? It was truly special in the hearts of Jamaicans, you cannot just grab any old plane and paint the air Jamaica colours and logo on it and think you could replace the real “Air Jamaica, the Love Bird, Air Yard”, it was a combination of things that made it “Air Jamaica”, it was our birth right. Yes we use to curse the hell out of it when it was late, sometimes swear we would never take it again but once we got to our destination all was forgiven. In all my years of going back and forth to Jamaica before we sold Air Jamaica, I have only taken one other airline, once and I felt disgusted, it was then that I declared that any flight from and to Jamaica must be on my Air Jamaica.
It made us feel special when we saw it parked in airports around the world or to see it flying overhead while in some other country. I once saw it when I was in the South West of England I looked up to see the magic colours and the distinctive Love Bird logo and my heart swelled with pride. We grew up with Air Jamaica, when I was young my family use to take Sunday evening drives to the airport to watch it land and take off while we eat our ice cream and cake and various snack.
I will never forget it, it will always be special to me and nothing will ever replace it and I will never dishonor its memory by taking that imitation Air Jamaica/Trinidad/Caribbean Airline thing.