KINGSTON, Jamaica -- The Jamaican government increased its minority
stake in flag carrier Air Jamaica, which was privatized nine years
ago and has since been led by majority shareholder and chairman
Gordon "Butch" Stewart, owner of the Sandals and Beaches resort
Aloun N'dombet Assamba, Jamaica's minister of industry and
tourism, confirmed that the government now holds 45% of the shares
in the airline, up from 25%.
Air Jamaica, which lost $90 million in 2002, reportedly swapped
$300 million in debts it owed the government for the stock
Assamba said management of Air Jamaica will remain in private
"It's not a move toward re-nationalization," she said. "It's
just that we recognize Air Jamaica is important to us, they're
going through difficult times and we're doing what we can to ensure
they keep flying."