CAL cuts Air Jamaica flights
Curtis Rampersad: Publications Editor
Cash-strapped Caribbean Airlines (CAL) has cut the number of flights of its Air Jamaica subsidiary by 50 per cent in a bid to stem multi-million-dollar losses at the national airline.
CAL has reduced the flight frequencies of Air Jamaica’s core schedule services from Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica, to North American destinations including Toronto, Canada and South Florida stops by as much as 50 per cent, but has not eliminated any flights altogether, airline sources confirmed yesterday.
The changes went into effect on April 16.
Daily flights from Port of Spain to Kingston and Georgetown, Guyana, have not been affected.
The flight frequencies are being reduced because of lighter passenger loads.
It is one measure implemented by CAL to reduce hundreds of millions of dollars in losses in from 2012 into 2013 as reported exclusively in last week’s Sunday Express.
But it also comes at a time when the Jamaican government is threatening to remove the Air Jamaica brand from CAL if flights are reduced.
Jamaica remains a 16 per cent shareholder in CAL following its takeover by the airline two years ago.
CAL head of Corporate Communications, Clint Williams, confirmed the flight frequency reductions yesterday.
In an e-mailed statement to the Express, he said: “The frequency reductions affecting flights between North America and Jamaica are part of an overall transformation initiative by the airline toward a more efficient operation. The destinations previously served are all still being served and Southbound travel — between the Caribbean and Jamaica, is not affected by this.”
Williams added: “The reductions came after evaluation on the load factors on these flights and the identifying of opportunities to consolidate loads into fewer flights to serve the same number of passengers. Naturally, peak season demands will be considered and flights allocated where booking trends suggest they can be profitable.”
CAL is currently seeking financing from local banks to deal with a U$234 million debt.
CAL chairman Rabindra Moonan told the Sunday Express in an exclusive interview last week that the airline had reached a “delicate stage” in its negotiations with a bank for long-term financing.
CAL’ s financial statements for 2012 showed its losses moving from US$43.6 million in 2011 to US$83.7 million last year.
Moonan said CAL had suffered heavy losses in Jamaica.