Fly Jamaica in limbo despite takeover talk

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Fly Jamaica in limbo despite takeover talk

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Sep 06, 2019

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/busi ... eover-talk

Fly Jamaica in limbo despite takeover talk
Neville Graham - Business Reporter
September 6, 2019

The timetable to return Fly Jamaica to the skies appears to be in doubt, its employees are still unpaid, and the airline’s founder, Ronald Paul Reece, says the deal for the takeover of the airline is yet to be finalised.

Glenn Logan, who previously announced that he and his backers had acquired the airline and set September as the date they were shooting for to return the carrier to service, declined to give an update this week, saying talks were ongoing with Reece.

But Nari Williams-Singh, the head of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, JCAA, says the outreach to his agency by the prospective investors has so far been exploratory and that the carrier remains suspended. The airline would have to be recertified in order to resume service, but the application and review process is yet to begin, he said.

“We had a meeting a few weeks ago. It was really to give us an update as to where they are, but at this point there’s been no discussion about resumption of service or whatever,” Williams-Singh said.

Since a plane incident in November 2017 when the lone operational Fly Jamaica airplane – a Boeing 757 en route to Toronto from Guyana – skidded off the runway as the pilot attempted an emergency landing at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, the damaged plane has been languishing at a remote section of the airfield.

Director of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, GCAA, Egbert Field, told the Financial Gleaner that his investigations of the incident found that the right undercarriage and right engine collapsed, and that the right wing is also damaged.The GCAA investigation, he added, has been completed but that the airplane is still sitting at Cheddi Jagan.
Insurance claim

Fly Jamaica has made a claim on its insurance over the accident, but Reece says the claim is yet to be paid. He also said the prospective buyers of the carrier are yet to pay over any funds to him, and that Logan’s public utterances to date have breached their agreements about disclosures. Logan, who says he has the backing of French company W&L SAS, declined to comment when asked about Reece’s claim.

Meanwhile, there is tension among former Fly Jamaica employees about salaries owed to them since late 2017. Both those in Guyana and Jamaica say they have made complaints to their labour ministries, with no positive outcome.

In Guyana, Field says frustrated employees approached his office, but that he was unable to help as compensation of airline employees is not part of his remit.

“Up to last week, I had officials from the Ministry of Labour visiting me, representing the unpaid workers, but that is not under my responsibility. So I did say to them that I hope that Fly Jamaica would be able to get some investment that would then put some money in the airline so that they can pay some of the debt that it owes,” he said.

Williams-Singh, his Jamaican counterpart, says there is no specific date set for Fly Jamaica flights to resume, as there is a process that has to be followed for the carrier to be cleared for operation.

“As with any entity, they would have to go through a process of certification to demonstrate that they have all the necessary personnel, equipment, facilities, and so on, in accordance with the Jamaica Civil Aviation regulations, to conduct the service,” said the JCAA head.

He explained that the typical new applicant would be faced with a certification process lasting up to 12 months, but would not offer a direct comment on the Fly Jamaica case, saying there were a number of considerations, including whether the airline will be operated along similar lines, the type of equipment, and other factors to be weighed. He said, however, that the recertification period is considerably shorter than 12 months.

Logan told the Financial Gleaner in a previous interview that the Fly Jamaica fleet will be expanded immediately to at least five aircraft: two 767s for long-haul flights, two 737s for short to medium haul, along with the long-haul 767-300ER that is presently undergoing certification checks in Mexico.

In addition to the two routes formerly plied by Fly Jamaica – New York and Toronto – the carrier plans to add gateways in Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta. These routes will take care of travellers in the ethnic market.

The new investors aim to restructure the airline’s revenue mix. Scheduled flights are expected to account for less than half of Fly Jamaica’s business, while the bigger portion will come from the packaged tours market through charters – to be done through a subsidiary operation called Fly Jamaica Vacations, Logan said.

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