KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, while noting the value of Air Jamaica to the national economy, said it is costing the country too much to maintain the airline and the Government is looking to remove it from the national budget.
Mr. Golding, who was responding to a question during his first one-hour radio call-in program on Wednesday (Jan. 30) from Jamaica House, said it is costing the country more than US$100 million to maintain Air Jamaica. “It is poor people’s taxes we have to be using to maintain it and that cannot continue,” he stated.
Prime Minister, Hon. Bruce Golding gives a detailed response to a caller during the airing of the new radio program ‘Jamaica House Live.’
“We have given instructions to the Ministry of Finance and Public Service to have discussions with private interests that will be prepared to come in and still run it, as Air Jamaica still employs our pilots and flight attendants.
“But take it off our books so that the money we are spending to keep Air Jamaica going, we can spend that to improve our education and try and improve our hospitals and try and fix some roads,” the Prime Minister said.
According to Mr. Golding, Air Jamaica is of utmost importance to the country as it provides a significant number of airlifts, which is important to the tourism industry.
He pointed out that if tourists are having problems coming to Jamaica “they will get flights somewhere else and we will lose the business.”
“It is also important because Air Jamaica is like a piece of Jamaica that has wings. Jamaicans abroad have an affinity, a passion about Air Jamaica, because we regard it as part of our heritage so to speak,” he stated.
He noted further that “Air Jamaica has value and has routes that are valuable routes and in addition to that, as our national carrier, it has a certain brand value.”
The new one-hour radio call-in program ‘Jamaica House Live’ is part of the Government’s thrust to open the lines of communication and to hear suggestions, comments and general feedback from Jamaicans at home and abroad.
Additionally, it will provide a forum for Government to report on its stewardship in implementing policies and programs to improve the lives of citizens.
‘Jamaica House Live’ with Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, will be aired on the last Wednesday of each month, and will be carried live between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on RJR 94 FM, Nationwide Radio Digital AM; Love 101 FM; Hot 102; KLAS FM and Roots FM.