Air Jamaica Airlines
History Of Jamaica's Former Lovebird

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Air Jamaica Airlines, contributed by Tracie Blake

Air Jamaica started on May 1, 1966 as a joint airline with British West Indies Airways, British Airways and the Jamaican Government.

On April 1, 1969 they branched out on their own becoming the first national airline of Jamaica.

They started with a fleet of only two airplanes namely a DC8 and a DC9, doing non-stop flights from Kingston and Montego Bay to New York and Miami.

Over the years they expanded their fleet to include a fleet of A320, an A321 and an A340 planes.

This resulted in Air Jamaica hosting over 300 flights per week! With 37 years of excellent service, this company decided to focus on making sure their clients’ in-flight experience is above all.

They embarked upon ensuring every flyer got treated with welcome drinks, smoke-free flights, audio headphones for movies and music, magazines, assistance with booking vacation packages and fully trained attentive flight attendant staff members who not only take care of our needs but also put on fashion shows wearing the couture of local designers.

Air Jamaica was privatized when it was purchased by Gordon "Butch" Stewart with the government having minority shares. During this phase, it changed direction by creating the slogan "Soaring to New Heights".

To enhance this slogan, a new fleet of planes were purchased, More training was done to improve service, new agreements were looked into to garner flying to new destinations, amenities were given out, meal services were enhanced to include a flying chef, aerobics were offered on UK flights and a red carpet entrance welcomed every flyer.

Air Jamaica further gained for itself the accolade of being the first international airline to operate from Fort Lauderdale International Airport. As a result of the problems that were facing the airline, the new Government of Jamaica took full control of the airline.

Some restructuring was done, removing profit-less routes, reducing in-flight services, improving maintenance procedures and closely managing fuel usage. In addition, Air Cargo Services was added as an expansion for large shipments.

Air Jamaica later joined forces with Delta Airlines for marketing services for both organizations. This assisted in increasing accessibility to allow them to operate from over 150 cities in North America.

This level of service and commitment has led to awards such as Best Airline in the Caribbean, Best Honeymoon Airline, Five Star Diamond Airline, Prettiest Planes in the Sky, Best In-Flight Video in the World and Airline of the Year for Best Regional Scheduled Cargo Airline.

But Air Jamaica continued to had financial challenges so the then government of Jamaica decided to divest it.

On March 27, 2011, then finance minister, Audley Shaw and his Trinidadian counterpart Winston Dookeran signed the shareholder agreement representing the formal merger of Air Jamaica and Caribbean Airlines (CAL).

The signing of the agreement gave the Government of Jamaica a 16 per cent of the shares of Caribbean Airlines and also represented the formal transfer of Air Jamaica’s routes to Caribbean Airlines and elevates CAL as the national carrier of Jamaica.

For travel routes, schedules, flight status, reservation and careers, visit their website at

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