Completion of Air J deal in jeopardy

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There are indications that the Trinidad authorities are having concerns over the completion of the Air Jamaica deal.

The information came out as part of the public quarrel between the Trinidad Transport Minister Austin "Jack" Warner and members of the Board of Directors of Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL).

Squabbles between the Trinidadian Transport Minister and the Caribbean Airlines board about who makes decisions for the airline, have brought into sharp focus, concerns about the Air Jamaica deal.

In a release last week, the board of CAL revealed that three of its members visited Jamaica on November 18 after Captain Ian Brunton, the airlines former Chief Executive Officer, suggested that the Trinidad Government "should not complete the Air Jamaica transaction" which had been approved by the previous administration.

The visit was sanctioned by Mr. Warner after he was told in advance of the agenda to be discussed.
It is not clear who the Board members talked to or what was agreed during the visit but the sanctioning of a trip to discuss the possibility of walking away from the deal to acquire Air Jamaica runs counter to public statements by both Mr. Warner and the Trinidadian Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissesar endorsing the deal.

Currently, Caribbean Airline is in a transition stage with Air Jamaica in a plan that will see the Lovebird absorbed into its operations with the Trinidadian carrier assuming ownership of the assets.

CAL should also be recognised as the Jamaican national airline and have the right to use the brand.

In turn, the Jamaica Government is to retain a 16% stake.

All this should be completed by April 30, 2011, a deadline by which Caribbean Airlines has the right to terminate its transitional arrangement with the Jamaican Government on minimal notice and with no penalty.