With dozens of passengers stranded in Georgetown, Kingston and New York, Fly Jamaica last night said that its recovery plan is scheduled to begin today with a leased aircraft which will be operated on a limited schedule.
Passengers, it said, will be notified of their flight departure.
“Fly Jamaica Airways requests that passengers desist from going to their local airport for departure unless notified by an airline representative”, a statement from the airline said.
The statement came after days of cancelled flights and delays caused by scheduled and unscheduled maintenance checks and a mega storm that severely affected flights at the JFK Airport in New York.
Fly Jamaica says it will advise as soon as one or both of its aircraft are returned to business and noted that it is engaging third party carriers to support its operations.
Fly Jamaica passengers have complained bitterly about not being provided with information on when their flights would leave.
Speaking to Stabroek News earlier yesterday, Fly Jamaica Commercial Manager Carl Bowen said the airline is confident that it can clear the backlog by this weekend.
The airline’s management team is also expected to meet with officials of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) sometime this week for what Bowen says he assumes is the authority’s interest in finding out what the company’s solution to the backlog is.
At present, Bowen said the airline is behind by two flights destined for New York which is equivalent to 200-plus passengers.
“It’s a matter of two flights and once the plane is here we will have everything sorted out…people have to go back to work, people have to go back to school or have to go for medical treatment and we all understand that and we have facilitated people on other carriers but the problem is the other carriers have the same problem. CAL left here one morning and had to abort and that is why terminal one (JFK in New York) asked us not to fly because they would have to divert us to somewhere else… You go up in the air now and you multiply the problem ten-fold over and that is why they asked us not to fly… We have assured 99% of them that by the end of the week we should catch up…”, he said.
“Very, very few people we would not have been able to contact because they did not give contact information…but we did spend out email blasts…some people got through the cracks… Calls were made in Jamaica and here and we made diligent efforts to contact everyone and we understand that some people may not have been contacted and would have shown up at the airport,” Bowen added.
Commenting on the issues that have resulted in the backlog, Bowen highlighted the recent snow storm in New York as being one the main factors hindering their operations.
“We received correspondence from Terminal one dating back to last Thursday informing us of the congestion at the terminal because of the storm and that they are not really open or accepting any flights. It was only until today that they were able to get out the planes that were stuck there and it’s not normal operation they just trying to get the planes out,” he explained.
“They are not accepting any other flights apart from normal schedule and ours is Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays… we can only go in at our slots,” Bowen added.
In addition to this, the storm has prevented the company from working with their charters since one is currently having maintenance issues while the others are having crew related issues as a result of the bad weather.
“We have been trying to get our usual charters but one of the charter’s planes has broken down and another has its crew on rest right now… We are trying to get charters to fill in the gaps and the charters have problems getting crew and when they get the crews they come here to Guyana, bring a bunch of people and they’ll have to get crew rest because they don’t have anybody else to take over for them to carry the plane out,” Bowen shared.
It was pointed out that as a requirement, pilots and their crew must have a certain number of hours of rest before they are permitted to fly again.
In a statement posted by the company on January 5 on its website, titled “Irregular Operations” it was stated that Fly Jamaica Airways has been experiencing operational setbacks that have caused disruption to its regular scheduled services.
The statement added that, “Fly Jamaica Airways’ Aircraft are currently undergoing scheduled and unscheduled maintenance checks. As a result we have to engage third party entities to assist with our operations. Unfortunately, several of these third party entities are also experiencing difficulties due to adverse weather conditions in North America.”
The statement urged affected passengers to contact Fly Jamaica directly and provide them with their contact information.
The statement reassured customers and their families that the company was working assiduously to restore regular operations and will provide flight information as it becomes available.