Guyanese businessman and pilot, Captain Paul Ronald Reece who serves as Chairman and CEO of the new upstart Fly Jamaica Airways was on hand at the Jamaica Consulate in New York City on Thursday, January 17th along with colleagues, Captain Lloyd Tai, who holds the distinction of being Air Jamaica’s “first pilot” as well as former Air Jamaica executive, Will Rogers, who is a consultant to the project and Ann Marie Francis who will serve as Area Manager for the New York region. The team has just flown in from Kingston, Jamaica where they had the Jamaica launch the evening before. It is being reported that Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller was at the event and pledged her support for the venture which brings together the “Crème de la Crème” of the previous Air Jamaica staff and executives.
The New York launch was under the auspices of the Honorable Herman LaMont, Jamaica’s Consul General to New York. It was a packed event with several industry insiders present like Pat Lawrence of Alken Tours, Barbara and Ken Whittaker of Kenbar Vacations and so many others. Questions abound.
In the spirit of promoting “national pride” and regionalism, the team has stated that they are awaiting final sign offs from the TSA and the Port Authority before they can announce the date of the first flight. According to Captain Tai, it could be as early as next week but until the necessary paper work is approved they remain in a holding pattern. Irwin Clare, founder of Team Jamaica Bickle was delighted, “This is regionalism at its zenith,” he said, “You know I am all about one Caribbean.” This business model bodes well for all parties involved and Clare concurs. “This is good for Jamaica and its good for Guyana…soon we will have flights going into and out of Guyana and then Sao Paulo in Brazil.” According to Clare, “I’m thinking long term and big picture, this will open up a new frontier for Jamaica in terms of potential tourists traveling from South America and not needing to get a VISA to pass through the US to get to Jamaica.” Fly Jamaica Airways is tentatively set to launch four flights weekly from JFK (terminal one) and travelers will get two checked bags free and yes, they have agreed to bring back food to the flights. “True Jamaican hospitality,” is what they are promising those who will go to their website and book their flights. “This is ‘YOUR’ airline,” said Captain Reece.