CASTRIES, St. Lucia – The national flag carrier of Jamaica says while its primary role is to transport passengers from one point to another, it has a development agenda which is just as important.
Speaking at the fifth anniversary of Counterpart International’s Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) in St. Lucia in October, George deMercado, Air Jamaica’s Vice President of Sales, said the airline’s mission goes much further – to promote “corporate social responsibility”.
“We strive to be a good corporate citizen and in doing that we need to be participants in all of the activities that are going on in the areas that we serve,” said deMercado. “That’s why we support the Jazz and Blues Festival in Jamaica, the Food and Rum Festival in St. Lucia, the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism, the World Championship of Dominoes in Jamaica – we are constantly striving to find local, indigenous projects that we can support because we feel that’s part of our mantra,” he added.
“Air Jamaica is without question more than an airline,” said Lelei LeLaulu, president of Counterpart International, organisers of CMEx. “This Caribbean carrier, in spite of the vagaries of the international aviation climate, recognizes its value as a development tool. It promotes the continuing education of Caribbean journalists who in turn have communicated to the public the wide positive impact of sustainable tourism development”.
The regional and international media are critical to Air Jamaica’s success, deMercado added. “Without them we are not going to be successful. You can always talk about stuff as much as you want, but if you are not getting it disseminated and people are not being able to read about it – it’s like winking at a girl in the dark, nothing will happen.”
The airline executive, whose company is one of the founding sponsors of CMEx, declared that “as long CMEx exists, Air Jamaica will be there to support it.”
Air Jamaica recently announced an increase in service to the Eastern Caribbean nations of St. Lucia and Barbados, effective January 10, 2007. The airline will boost its non-stop schedule from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Hewanorra International Airport in St. Lucia from three to four weekly flights, adding northbound and southbound flights on Wednesday to the current Sunday, Monday and Thursday rotation. The JFK-St. Lucia service continues to Barbados which thus also benefits from the increased flights.