Air Jamaica cuts staff, routes to build profit

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Air Jamaica cuts staff, routes to build profit

Unread post by bimjim » Sat Feb 28, 2009 ... lead7.html

Air Jamaica cuts staff, routes to build profit
Published: Friday | February 27, 2009
Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

AIR JAMAICA yesterday slashed four underperforming routes and terminated jobs at those locations, as administrators attempt to make the struggling airline attractive to prospective buyers.

Bruce Nobles, president and chief executive officer of Air Jamaica, told The Gleaner that workers at the Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles and Grand Cayman offices were let go.

He said another round of layoffs was due in March but declined to disclose how many persons would be affected.

"This is part of a strategy to make Air Jamaica profitable by summer," Nobles said.

He added that some of the workers released yesterday could find employment at the company's Fort Lauderdale and New York offices.

In January, Nobles announced that Air Jamaica would stop flying six routes which were not making money. Direct flights from Jamaica to Barbados and Grenada were also cut.

Surprising cut


Termination of the Miami route was most surprising; Air Jamaica had been travelling to the south Florida city since 1969. Atlanta and Los Angeles were added to the airline's schedule in the 1990s when it was run by hotelier Gordon 'Butch' Stewart.

Yesterday, Nobles said there were plans to increase the number of flights to and from Fort Lauderdale "depending on demand".

Currently, there are four flights daily to that city, which is also located in south Florida and has a large Jamaican population.

The Government, which subsidises Air Jamaica at US$30 million annually, had hoped to sell it by the end of March.

The airline lost US$170 million in 2007 and has accumulated debt of US$1.3 billion.

In January, Senator Don Wehby, the Cabinet minister overseeing divestment talks, said the Government was in talks with "two reputable airlines" to purchase Air Jamaica.

"March 31 is close but we are going to try our best to hit that deadline," he said.

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