Greenheart stops beating: Fly Jamaica ceases operations

In late March 2019, Fly Jamaica Airways, a Jamaican airline with “Greenhart” as its callsign, laid off employees and ceased operations. In a letter send to employees, the airline’s CEO explains the decision was taken due to the lack of aircraft and financial troubles, four months after the carrier lost half its fleet during runway excursion incident.

“[…] 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,” according to a letter, signed by Paul Ronald Reece, Fly Jamaica Airways Chairman and CEO on March 29, 2019.

The letter then goes on explaining the company’s failed attempts to find more funding and promises to repay employees what they are owed from November 2018 ‒ the month when all the trouble started.

Since commencing operations in 2012, Fly Jamaica operated only two aircraft: a Boeing 757-200 that the airline had since its launch, and a leased Boeing 767-300, which was added to the fleet in 2014, based on planespotters.net data.

But on November 9, 2018, the Boeing 757, performing flight OJ256, was en route to Toronto, Canada, when some 20 minutes into the flight, the pilot noticed problems with the plane’s hydraulic system and requested permission to return to Georgetown, Guyana.

There were 120 passengers and eight crew members on board. Upon landing at Cheddi Jagan International Airport (GEO), the aircraft overshoot the runway. According to media reports, six people were injured during the incident, one of them, a senior citizen, has later died at the hospital, allegedly from injuries sustained during the incident.

The airline has addressed the incident a month later, issuing a notification on December 5, 2019, which, among other things, stated: “[…] Fly Jamaica has begun the process of interfacing with its customers to ensure that, if they have suffered loss, they can be fairly and reasonably compensated in  line with accepted principles of aviation international law and our own corporate responsibility to our valued customers”.

Besides compensations to passengers, Fly Jamaica endured another problem: the Boeing 757 sustained substantial damage during the incident, including a collapsed right main gear and  impair of right engine. The aircraft was written off, leaving Fly Jamaica with only one other plane ‒ the 27 year old Boeing 767 ‒ and mounting debts.

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