Saturday, November 04, 2006

Air Jamaica - Jamaica's National Airline

Air Jamaica is our national airline.

Air Jamaica was established in October 1968 and started operations on 1 April 1969, when it connected Kingston and Montego Bay, with New York and Miami. At that time the Jamaican government owned a substantial part of the airline, with Air Canada owning a minor share and providing technical, maintenance and logistical help.

During the 1970s, Air Jamaica saw a huge expansion. Flights were added to Toronto and Montreal in Canada, to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Puerto Rico, to Philadelphia and many other destinations, especially across the Caribbean. Long-haul services to Europe were started on 1 April 1974. Air Jamaica used Douglas DC-8s for a large part of the 1970s, but the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar and Boeing 727 jets became a part of the fleet towards the end of the decade when the government bought over Air Canada's small share. During the 1980s, growth slowed. Nevertheless, new routes were still opened, to Baltimore and Atlanta.

During the 1990s Air Jamaica continued to expand: the airline took over the Kingston-Nassau, Bahamas route, which had been left by British Airways, began a code sharing agreement with Delta Air Lines and opened routes to Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix (which was later dropped), and to Frankfurt, London, Manchester, Santo Domingo and Ft. Lauderdale. The route to Phoenix was opened because Air Jamaica was looking for expansion in the American West, beyond its route to Los Angeles. In 1994 the company was partially privatized, with the government retaining 25% of the company and giving 5% of it to the airline's employees. It started buying Airbus equipment, including the Airbus A340, and began a feeder service, a frequent flyer program (7th Heaven), and an inflight magazine, named SkyWritings. The airline also underwent a livery change during that decade. Air Jamaica has now opened a large operations base in Saint Lucia.

In December 2004, after massive financial losses, the government took back 100% control of Air Jamaica. It employs 3000 staff.

Visit the Air Jamaica Photo Gallery:

See You in Jamaica.


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