It is not the departure that they might have been preparing for, but on the same day that the Fly Jamaica Chief Executive Officer issued a press statement, announcing that the airline hopes “to restart flight operations in a couple of months”, redundancy letters were issued to all of the airline’s staff members.
The letters caught many of the staffers by surprise and left others in shock as they complained that they were being misled by the airline and never saw the signs leading to their exit.
“The Board of Directors of Fly Jamaica Airways regrets to inform you that due to our lack of aircraft and the impact that it has had on the company’s financial position, we have no alternative but to make all our employees redundant effective March 31, 2019”, the letter stated.
The employees received the letter in their emails on March 29, 2019.
According to the company, it was hoping for funding, but that has been slow in coming and “therefore for the time being, no other resources or options exist”.
Many of the laid off staff members including pilots, flight attendants and counter agents have not been paid salaries since November 2018, when the carrier’s operations came to a halt following the crash of its only operational plane at the time.
The airline has committed to pay the outstanding salaries, but has asked the now laid off staff members to give it more time to make those payments.
“If the company’s circumstances change in the future and you are still interested in employment with the company, you will be invited to apply for a position within the company”, the letter from Chairman and CEO, Captain Ronald Reece stated.
One staff member told News Source that the letter has left them all “with the biggest headache, I’ve experienced in my life”, as no options were left behind by the airline.
Another staffer explained that the airline’s board should have been much clearer with staff members much earlier and not offer them hope that their jobs were safe, when that was clearly not the reality.
Fly Jamaica employed more than 100 Guyanese at its operations in Guyana, including flight crew. It also had staff members based in Jamaica, New York and Toronto.
In a statement to the media on Friday, Chairman and CEO, Captain Ronald Reece made no reference to the company wide layoffs. Instead, he sought to reassure passengers who are still owed refunds, that their payments will be honoured.
In that statement, Captain Reece made it clear that the airline was not currently operating any aircraft.
It was back in November 2018 that the airline’s fortunes made a sudden change following the emergency landing and crash of its 757 aircraft at Guyana’s Cheddi Jagan Airport. The plane had moments earlier departed Georgetown for a non-stop flight to Toronto, when mechanical problems forced the pilots to head back to Guyana and make the emergency landing.
Several passengers were injured during the emergency landing. One woman died days later and although she was not listed among the injured, her family blames the airline for her death.
The airline has also been slapped with a mountain of lawsuits from outraged passengers who were on the flight and who complained about being treated “shabbily” after the accident.
Sources in the Aviation industry have told News Source that the airline could be facing even more problems, as it stands to lose its operating licenses in both Guyana and Jamaica because it has been out of operation for such a long period.
Fly Jamaica operated its services with a Boeing 757 and a 767 aircraft. Both planes were owned by the airline. When the 757 crashed in November, the 767 was already out of operation for maintenance purposes.
It has never returned to operation and the airline has never offered a reason for that problem.
Fly Jamaica started operations in Guyana in Guyana in 2013.