Jamaica’s PM wants Air Jamaica & Virgin Management to talk with Jamaicans

LONDON – Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller says she will be directing that the management of the national airline, Air Jamaica and the operators of Virgin Atlantic Airways meet with Jamaicans in the United Kingdom (UK) to explain how the recently announced code share arrangement on the London to Jamaica route will work.

The Prime Minister made the announcement while addressing Jamaicans living in the UK at a community awards function on Sunday June 10.

While explaining the reason for the decision of the Air Jamaica management to cease operating the route as of October this year, Mrs. Simpson Miller said the members of the Jamaican community in Britain who are likely to be the most severely affected by the decision, deserve to know exactly how the new code share arrangement with Virgin Atlantic will work.

“They must talk to you and listen to what you expect of the new service which will begin in October 2007,” the Prime Minister said.

Explaining the issue that has created great disquiet among the Jamaican community in Britain she told scores of UK-based Jamaicans that in coming to the position they arrived at, the airline’s management took a decision to cut their losses, which she said amounted to fourteen million Pound Sterling a year.

“Fourteen Million Pounds could build a few schools and provide miles of new water supply line in Jamaica,” the Prime Minister noted.
Acknowledging that she knew how Jamaicans in the UK felt about the change in the arrangements for flying between London and Kingston, Mrs. Simpson-Miller pointed out that the London route had become an extremely difficult one for a small airline to maintain.

She added that: “All of us have a special pride when our own aircraft is available to us to travel across the Atlantic. Some of you have told me that you never fly to Jamaica – at least not for the past ten years or more – on any plane but an Air Jamaica plane. We appreciate your loyalty and we appreciate your feelings about your national carrier.”

The Prime Minister stopped in the UK en route to the 96th Conference of the International Labour Organisation and handed out awards to Jamaicans who have made various contributions in the Birmingham area. She also met with the Lord Mayor of the City of Birmingham, Councillor Randal Brew.

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