While noting that the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ) intends to upgrade the aerodromes that are in operation, Minister of Transport Robert Montague said the authority is seeking investors who are willing to operate flights within the island.
“The AAJ is seeking a partner to assist with the setting up of an internal airline to assist with domestic movement of people and goods. In today’s Jamaica, we need scheduled internal flights.”
“So the call is for persons in the private sector to come forward and let the negotiations begin. Mr Speaker, you will recall Trans Jamaica and Air Jamaica Express,” Montague said during his sectoral presentation in the House of Representatives this week.
He stated that he already is in discussion with potential investors from abroad.
“We are again moving to market and open up our general aviation industry. Discussions have begun with private pilots associations in North America. One association has 180,000 members. If we could get 5 percent of the owners to come to Jamaica, that’s 9000 flights per year or 25 flights per day.”
Montague said the investment would auger well for the local economy.
“Can you imagine what that [investment in the local aviation industry] would mean for fuel sales, villa and car rental, aircraft maintenance, catering and additional jobs to bring more prosperity,” he reasoned.
“The AAJ intends to invest and upgrade the aerodromes that are currently operational. Therefore, Negril, Ken Jones in Port Antonio, Tinson Pen, Lionel Densham at Treasure Beach, and Ian Fleming will see upgrading work this year. The scope of some of the works will include fencing, runway rehabilitation, repairs to terminals, and establishment of pilot lounges.”
Montague also expressed optimism that, before the end of this year, the Norman Manley International Airport should be divested.
“The AAJ is far advanced with the divestment of the Norman Manley International Airport and, if all goes to plan, we should have divested this asset by the end of the calendar year. The invitation for the bid is now open, and the eight pre-qualified bidders have been invited. Assessment and evaluation will be in June. By September/October, we should be signing with the preferred bidder,” the minister further explained.