In the midst of a debt crisis of about US1-billion, Air Jamaica, the island’s national carrier was grounded Tuesday, the Miami Herald reported.
The paper’s Web edition quoted Air Jamaica as saying it had canceled flights to New York, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Toronto because of an unexpected workers strike.
According to the Herald, the airline’s CEO Shirley Williams said the walkout by 38 flight attendants was unexpected because management was planning to meet with workers Tuesday to discuss their grievances.
On Tuesday, two departures from Fort Lauderdale, to Kingston and Montego Bay, were canceled, as well as two arrivals from the same cities, the Herald said.
One flight from Miami to Montego Bay was also canceled, as well as one flight from Kingston to Miami, said Terry Klewan, a public relations spokeswoman representing Air Jamaica.
Heather Rose, a spokeswoman for the airline’s 300 flight attendants, said employees are frustrated because the struggling Caribbean carrier has not offered a viable business plan.
Workers at Jamaica’s two major airports also have waged sickouts to demand better salaries and benefits.
A week ago the Gleaner newspaper reported that the airline faced a US$3.5 million bill to International Leasing and Financial Corporation to cover storage of a leased Airbus 340 in a hangar where the plane had been for five months after maintenance facilities at Sogerma in Bordeaux, France.
Air Jamaica transports passengers to about 20 destinations throughout the Caribbean and in North America and Europe. It operates a fleet of more than 15 Airbus jets, including A-320s, A-321s, and wide-body A-340s.
The company extends its network through a code-sharing relationship with Air Canada, which allows the airlines to sell tickets on one another’s flights. The Jamaican government owns Air Jamaica, which was founded in 1966.