Divestment of Air Jamaica by March 31, 2009

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator Donald Wehby, has informed that the divestment of Air Jamaica is scheduled to be completed by March 31, 2009.

“The Divestment Committee is working with the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank. The final phase of the divestment, marketing and implementation, is currently underway and the marketing document, an information memorandum, has been finalised,” Senator Wehby said, during his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate on November 14.

The Minister pointed out that for the divestment, the Government is looking for a major international airline partner that would be able to deliver operational efficiencies and expand alliances, so that Air Jamaica becomes a viable option for more people around the world, and not just those in the 20 destinations now served by the airline.

“We see the divestment as an opportunity for Air Jamaica to succeed, as it will bring the capital and expertise needed to beat the challenges. At the end of the privatisation process, one thing is certain, Jamaicans and visitors will have superior access to convenient air travel,” Senator Wehby said.

He argued that there are several valuable points about Air Jamaica that have been communicated to potential investors, and key among these is the fact that the airline is the leader in the Jamaican aviation market.

Air Jamaica has a total market share of 44 per cent, comprised of 50 per cent of all Jamaican passengers; and 31 per cent of all visitors, which is nearly twice the number of visitors carried by any other airline.

“The deliverables for the divestment are clear. The Air Jamaica brand must be maintained; adequate airlift must be provided for the island; and the selected partner must have extensive airline experience, matched with the appropriate capital,” Senator Wehby said. (JIS)

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