Air Jamaica

For the current brand, see Caribbean Airlines.
Air Jamaica
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded October 1968[1]
Ceased operations 2015
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program 7th Heaven
Airport lounge Lovebird Executive Lounge
Alliance None
Fleet size 4
Destinations 19[2]
Company slogan Feel it when you fly!
One Vision, One Caribbean, One Airline [3]
Parent company Caribbean Airlines Limited
Key people Rubindra Moonan [4] (Chairman)
Robert Corbie (Acting Chief Executive Officer)

Air Jamaica was the national airline of Jamaica. It has been owned and operated by Caribbean Airlines since May 2011. Caribbean Airlines Limited, headquartered in Piarco, Trinidad and Tobago, had administrative offices for Air Jamaica located at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica.

The Jamaican government was formerly the owner of Air Jamaica. It sold the airline to Caribbean Airlines in 2011, which resulted in the Jamaican government's owning 16% of Caribbean Airlines.[5]


According to R.E.G. Davies in his Airlines of Latin America Since 1919, the first incarnation of Air Jamaica was founded on August 27, 1963 after the government of Jamaica decided not to invest in British West Indian Airways (BWIA). Dubbed Jamaica Air Service Ltd., its shareholders were the government of Jamaica (51 percent), British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC, which would eventually evolve into British Airways) in association with the Cunard Line (33 percent), and BWIA (16 percent). BWIA's employees in Jamaica were transferred to the new airline. Service to Miami and New York began on May 1, 1966.

BOAC, Britain's major international airline at the time, and BWIA had continued to maintain the leased aircraft (this operating arrangement would not expire until the end of May 1969). However, the Jamaican government preferred a more independent approach and eventually prepared to establish a new company, Air Jamaica (1968) Ltd.

Air Jamaica was established in October 1968 and started operations on April 1, 1969, connecting Kingston and Montego Bay, with New York and Miami.[6] At that time the Jamaican government owned a substantial part of the airline, with Air Canada owning a minority share (40 percent) and providing aircraft (one DC-8 61 and three DC-9s), pilots, technical, maintenance and logistical help.

Douglas DC-9-32 of Air Jamaica at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in 1975.

During the 1970s Air Jamaica expanded rapidly. 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 a Douglas DC-8 and three DC-9s for a large part of the 1970s, but the Boeing 727 became part of the fleet toward the end of the decade when the government bought out Air Canada's share. During the 1980s, growth slowed. New routes were opened to Baltimore and Atlanta.

Air Jamaica leased a Boeing 747-100 from Aer Lingus in the early 1980s.

In 1989 the Jamaican government announced plans for the privatization of the airline (which was fully state owned since Air Canada divested its 40 percent shareholding in 1980). However, it was not until May 1994 that a partial selloff was announced when a group of Jamaican and Canadian investors known as the Air Jamaica Acquisition Group (AJAG) agreed to acquire a 70 percent share of the carrier for $26.5 million. Another five-percent share was earmarked for employees. The government retained responsibility for liabilities, which were considerable.

A further merger of Air Jamaica with other Caribbean airlines was already being proposed, with British Airways invited to take a 25 percent holding in the venture. In the first stage, Air Jamaica was to have merged its operations with those of Trinidad and Tobago Airways, parent of BWIA. Guyana Airways Corporation, and Leeward Islands Air Transport would be included in the venture later.

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 a route to 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 to expand in the American west beyond its route to Los Angeles. In 1994 the company was partially privatized, with the government retaining 25 percent of the company and giving 5 percent to the airline's employees. It began buying Airbus equipment, including the Airbus A340, and began a feeder service, a frequent flyer program (7th Heaven), and an inflight magazine, named SkyWritings.

In December 2004, after financial losses, the government of Jamaica resumed full ownership of Air Jamaica. It employed 2,522 people as of March 2007.[6]

By March 2010, Air Jamaica had net losses in 40 out of its 42 years of existence, and had an accumulated deficit of approximately $1.54 billion.[7]

In 2007, the new Jamaican government began to consider privatization of Air Jamaica, seeking to remove an unsustainable venture from its balance sheet.[7][8]

In October 2007 Bruce Nobles, President and Chief Operational Officer of Air Jamaica from May 2002 to June 2003, was asked to return, replacing William Rogers who was interim President and CEO of the airline since the October 2007 resignation of CEO Michael Conway.

On 4 July 2009, The Jamaica Gleaner reported that U.S.-based Spirit Airlines had reached an agreement with the Jamaican government to acquire the national airline.[9]

On 17 December 2009, it was reported that the Prime Minister of Jamaica had recently approached the government of Trinidad and Tobago regarding a possible merger or acquisition by Caribbean Airlines Limited.[10]

It was decided that Air Jamaica would cease to operate under Jamaican ownership and be primarily run by Caribbean Airlines Limited until the transitional process was complete. Caribbean Airlines acquired the airline's fleet and route rights on 1 May 2010, and opened a new hub at Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport. The acquisition makes Caribbean Airlines the largest airline in the Caribbean. On 27 May 2011 Jamaican Finance Minister Audley Shaw and Trinidadian Finance Minister Winston Dookeran signed the shareholding agreement, making Caribbean Airlines the national airline of Jamaica with access to all routes operated by the former Air Jamaica.[11] On 1 July 2011, all Air Jamaica and Caribbean Airlines's flights began operating under Caribbean Airlines's "BW" IATA code.[12]

The airline operates scheduled services from Kingston and Montego Bay to seven destinations in the Caribbean, Canada and the United States. The airline's acquisition by Caribbean Airlines Limited of Trinidad and Tobago was implemented on May 1, 2010. However the current owners intended to keep the name "Air Jamaica" in use as long as they were in possession of the company.[13]

The airline officially reopened operations on May 1, 2010 upon acquisition of Air Jamaica by Caribbean Airlines Limited. The new airline is now owned by Caribbean Airlines Limited of which the government of Jamaica holds 16% of shares.[5] The acquisition by Caribbean Airlines also gave the company exclusive rights to the Air Jamaica name for one year, with options for annual renewal.[14] On January 14, 2011, the Air Jamaica brand was relaunched at the Norman Manley International Airport with the unveiling of a new livery. The Boeing 737-800 aircraft, registered in Trinidad and Tobago, bore elements of Air Jamaica's original livery along with alterations to align the corporate identity with Caribbean Airlines. Each aircraft will bear a sticker of Caribbean Airlines logo along with both Jamaican and Trinbagonian national flags.[15]

Air Jamaica ceased all operations during 2015.



Current fleet

An Air Jamaica 737-800 taking off from Miami

As of September 2011, the Air Jamaica fleet consists of the following aircraft with an average age of 7.4 years:[16]

Air Jamaica fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers
B E Total
Boeing 737-800 3 0 16 138 154

Historic fleet

An Air Jamaica Douglas DC-8-62H approaching London Heathrow Airport in 1978
An Air Jamaica Airbus A340 landing at London Heathrow Airport in 2004
Air Jamaica Retired Fleet [17]
Aircraft Amount
Airbus A300B4-200 9
Airbus A310-300 11
Airbus A319-100 2
Airbus A320-200 15
Airbus A321-200 5
Airbus A340-300 3
Boeing 727-200 6
Boeing 747-100 1
Douglas DC-8-62 1
Douglas DC-8-61 2
Douglas DC-8-51 3
Douglas DC-8-41 2
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 3
McDonnell Douglas MD-83 9

Air Jamaica also briefly operated Lockheed L-1011 TriStar wide body jet aircraft in 1989.[18]

See also


  1. Norwood, Tom; Wegg, John (2002). North American Airlines Handbook (3rd ed.). Sandpoint, ID: Airways International. ISBN 0-9653993-8-9.
  3. "South Florida Caribbean News". 2010-11-17. Archived from the original on 2012-03-13. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  4. "Caribbean Airlines granted flagship status as Canada route launched – NCN Guyana". 2012-12-04. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  5. 1 2 2014 Investment Climate Statement: Jamaica, United States Department of State (June 2014), p. 11.
  6. 1 2 Flight International 27 March 2007
  7. 1 2 Public-Private Partnership Stories: Jamaica: Air Jamaica, International Finance Corporation.
  8. Statement to Parliament Air Jamaica Divestment Project
  9. "Report: Spirit Airlines buys Air Jamaica". USA Today. 2009-07-06. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  10. "Jamaica PM flies in for Air Jamaica /CAL talks". 2012-05-26. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  11. "Air Jamaica on course for possible April 12 takeover." Caribbean 360. 4 March 2010. Retrieved on 5 March 2010.
  12. Karp, Aaron (2011-07-01). "Air Jamaica, Caribbean Airlines further integration". ATWOnline. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  13. Daraine Luton (29 April 2010). "Caribbean Airlines to re-hire 1,000 workers". Jamaica Gleaner.
  14. "Jamaica Gleaner News - Jamaica leases Air Jamaica trademarks for US$5/year - Wednesday | July 21, 2010". 2010-07-21. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  15. "Caribbean Airlines reaffirms commitment to Air J - News". Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  16. "Air jamaica fleet list at". Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  17. "Air Jamaica Fleet | Airfleets aviation". Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  18., Dec. 15, 1989 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Los Angeles - Kingston & Montego Bay schedules

External links

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