Air Jamaica “Bankrupt” – Government Support Of Airlines Will Never Be Profitable, Why Not Try An Island Ferry?

Air Jamaica is bankrupt – again. Like all small island “national” airlines, it was and is a black hole that will suck in as much money as can be thrown at it.

But maybe that is just the way things are with airlines in the Caribbean. Governments and people are reluctant to let them go because we would then be at the mercy of the larger carriers with no loyalties to the area.

So we continue to pay and pay – one way or the other. And it doesn’t seem to matter how much money Caribbean governments put into airlines, ticket prices remain so high that average folks are hard-pressed to fly.

If we accept that Caribbean island governments are going to be subsidizing inter-island travel anyway, shouldn’t we try something different? You know that old saying about doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result? That’s all about Caribbean governments bailing out airlines with a promise that this time a reorganisation will “lead to profitability”.

Sure. Right.

So let’s take our next airline bankruptcy and do this…

1/ Let the airline fail.

2/ No bailout.

3/ Let the Americans or the Brits provide whatever airline service the market will support.

4/ Take the money that would have been used to bail out the airline and set up an inter-island ferry service for cargo and passengers.

Further Reading

Jamaica Gleaner – Air Jamaica Bankrupt


Filed under Aviation, Barbados Tourism, CARICOM, Jamaica, Traveling and Tourism

12 responses to “Air Jamaica “Bankrupt” – Government Support Of Airlines Will Never Be Profitable, Why Not Try An Island Ferry?

  1. Agreed. It’s the same here in the U.S.

    Gov’t bail out->Airline resurgence-> Airline mismanagement->Airline Bankruptcy->Gov’t Bail out

    and the cycle continues.

    There has only been one consistently profitable airline and that’s Southwest: No frills, no first class, no assigned seating, only fly one type of plane for the cost efficiency, and treat your employees well. It’s not rocket science.

    Oh well..

  2. Bimbro

    The solution’s simple, an inter-island owned airline which does n’t include Jamaica! Success guaranteed!

  3. Crusty

    Inter-island ferries exist already between Trinidad and Tobago, mainland Venezuela and Isla Margarita, St. Vincent and Bequia, Martinique and St. Lucia, Martinique-Dominica-Guadaloupe. Probably others too.

    All of these links are between islands that are within sight and represent less than 2 hours travelling time.

    Barbados to any other island is at least 5 hours travelling at 20 knots by regular ferry and maybe 3 hours by fast catamaran. Loading and unloading time is about the same as with an airplane. Flying time is less than 45 minutes and is considerably more comfortable.

    If this method of transport for Barbados was still viable, don’t you think someone would be doing it now?

  4. Green Monkey

    Barbados to any other island is at least 5 hours travelling at 20 knots by regular ferry and maybe 3 hours by fast catamaran. Loading and unloading time is about the same as with an airplane. Flying time is less than 45 minutes and is considerably more comfortable.

    We could beg the Frenchmen for one of these: . At 50 knots, it’s expected maximum speed, crossing time to St. Vincent would be down to 2hrs; it would provide a real stimulating ride for the passengers; it would not use any gas or diesel, and it would not produce any greenhouse gasses. What’s not to like. (Warning for dial up users, the link above is graphic intensive and includes streaming video, not sure how well it would work on dial up).

  5. experienceaurie

    that is the truth!! very funny story about my recent trip to Jamaica a week or so ago. Flying out of JFK, I booked Air Jamaica and spent entirely too much money for it. Then I end up on North American Airlines. Who the heck are they?? Guy on the plane was carrying on and nearly hysterical. More on my blog to come about that story.

  6. Gilly

    Be careful what you wish for. Unfortunately for the region this will continue to be a necessary evil.

    Airfares have a high inverse relationship with the amount of competition in the market i.e. the more competition, the more available seats and the lower the airfares.

    As it stands, the islands are much too dependent on foreign carriers for airlift and they largely dictate the capacity to the region thereby controlling prices. If regional carriers like Air Jamaica, Liat, Carib. Air. etc were to be allowed to fold you would be astounded at how much and how quickly airfares would increase once the competition is gone.

  7. 152356967

    dis Ferries(to/from Barbados) talk
    bin gyne on for decades now.

    Talk dat long usually has little substance behind it.
    Or it woulda happen already
    or at least an attempt made.

    Even the local water-taxi arrangement Speightstown to B’town en’ gyne nuhwhere!(unfortunately)

    Hard to know which kinda maintenance is more costly.
    Sea-craft,in direck contack wid saltH2O
    – or airframe maintenance?
    Only ting worser dan dem is Helicopter maintenance
    and de freakin Space Shuttle!!

    Yuh think runnin boats easy?
    I doubt dey cheaper(by much) than running aeroplanes.

    Take something like Harbour Master for example.
    Something dah kinda size(and multi-decks) might do well for water taxi duty, S’town to B’town.

    but whuh?
    How long dat gyne run on pax paying $5-10 per direction?
    Harbour Master currently runs at prices on the order of $130 per person for their cruises,
    which is a slightly different kettle of fish, earnings-wise.
    I fear Government subsidies would be a necessity
    and that means that all o’ we still payin for it indireckly,
    one way or de other!
    On the positive side of transp. on this island,
    I notice that the Wildey triangle-a-bout modification thing seems to be working quite satisfactorily,
    and as sections of dual-carriageway ABC hiway open up, transiting is improving,
    despite some tail-backs at roundabouts during peak hrs.
    (much of THAT caused by indiscriminate parking on secondary roads a few hundred yards off this or that roundabout, which cause immediate tail-backs to and beyond roundabouts).

    Decent lane-markings would help mindless drivers get their shirt together, dontcha think?

  8. Green Monkey

    Here is an interesting post on re. the effect of Peak Oil on airlines and air travel. It’s the first in a planned series of articles on the topic and it is written by an Australian who looks at the problem specifically as it relates to air travel in Australia, but in general it would apply to all air travel. Also some of the comments after the article specifically mention Air Jamaica’s ongoing problems and question whether the massive investment being made in infrastructure improvements to support tourism in Jamaica are going to prove to be wasted money (in light of Peak Oil).

    Here is the link to the Oil Drum thread:

  9. Straight talk

    When air travellers collapse, as they will in the next two years, our ” experts ” will state unforeseen circumstances.

    I am an amateur, I have no state funding, but I will state now that international airlift into Barbados will halve in the next five years.

    You experts at BTA and BHTA cannot now say unforeseen circumstances, you must say contradictory to my personal forecast, and take the licks as a failed professional, should I be proved correct.

  10. Hants

    Straight talk you could be right. Airlines are already cutting staff and routes.

    I am concerned that there could also be a reduction in long distance cruise ship travel.

    We overseas Bajans may have to reduce the frequency of our visits if Air fares keep rising.

  11. Rumplestilskin

    Straight talk, I fully agree.

    Aur travel will become like the ‘old days’ with BOAC, Pan Am etc, with such being only for the privileged.

    How many of us could travel then, with those prices and salaries then?

    It will again be only for business and the privileged few.

    Interisland ferry is a must for these islands and boats will be significantly cheaper per person.

    As I have said before, those businessmen who need to get to an island in an hour or so can charter a small plane, or go by small plane run by small private companies. The rest of us, including cargo, leisure visitors etc can go by ferry, get there later in the day or if travlling by night, in the morning.

    The reality is, we will have no choice, this is inevitable. The important thing is for Government to do full and proper assessment of the type of craft available, including maintenance requirements and costs, seaworthiness i.e. safety in rough water, docking at the Port etc.


  12. Danica R.

    This kind of thinking is exactly why the Caribbean is almost ALWAYS dependent on the U.S. and Europe: we hardly ever believe in ourselves, and rely on foreigners to help us with our problems. If America did that every time the economy fell (and, now, it is in some hell of a hole), then where would they be? How many companies would fall because the U.S. gov’t would say, “Just let it die. We can just get China to send us imports for cheap.” Then who would the Caribbean Islands to say they needed help. What if Britain decided they were tired of bailing out the Caribbean, because, in case you didn’t know, many, if not all, Caribbean islands OWE some European country, or America, in some way. So instead of depending on OTHERS to rescue us, can we just rescue ourselves? I am third cousin to Tillman Thomas, the Prime Minister of Grenada, and if he had the mentality of you close-minded people, he would have NEVER been where he is today. He could have sat back and said, “America will fix it, like they did in ’84 when they ended the problems.” close-minded INSOLENT people are what you are. That’s all. Can you just have faith in your country? ‘Tis a shame. I’m only 14 years old.