Air J cuts will enhance Spirit's no-frills record
Published: Sunday | July 5, 2009

Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer

OBLIVIOUS OF the negotiations surrounding the privatisation of Air Jamaica, Bustamante Industrial Trade Unions' (BITU) president, Kavan Gayle, says the airline's business plan calls for cuts that would complement Spirit Airline's 'no-frills' record.

He is, however, hoping that the cuts would not "trim the muscles (employees), or the type of service that Air Jamaica currently offers to its thousands of customers".

The BITU represents Air Jamaica's flight attendants, the management group, the pilots' association and ground staff, jointly with the National Workers' Union.

Gayle was responding to an article published in yesterday's Gleaner on the sale of the national carrier. The report stated that Indigo Partners and Oaktree Capital, who are reportedly the owners of Spirit Airlines, may have bought the country's national carrier.

Along with the purchase, it is understood that Air Jamaica's name could be changed to 'Spirit of Jamaica'.

"One of the initial concerns of Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance, Don Wehby, was to retain the name Air Jamaica as brand," said Gayle, adding that he did not know how the Government would treat the proposed deviation.

sale impact

Criticising the privatisation for being carried without worker representation, as well as the silence surrounding the negotia-tions, Gayle said one of the things his organisation would ask for soon was a meeting with the minister to discuss the airline's future and the impact its sale would have on the workforce.

On Tuesday, Wehby disclosed that the Privatisation Committee, chaired by Dennis Lalor, had submitted to him the evaluation and recommendation report on the privatisation of the national carrier.

Efforts to get a comment from Minister Wehby on the deal proved futile, as his phone rang without an answer.