JetBlue is indeed a true partnerTuesday, February 16, 2021
With the island's fragile image taking an undeserved beating in the international press, especially in the United States, the statement by JetBlue Airways about its American employee's alleged kidnapping in Jamaica is a responsible one, befitting a good faith partnership.
Yesterday's very succinct statement on the matter by Mr Derek Dombrowski, JetBlue's corporate communications manager, would have helped to calm the frayed nerves of Jamaicans and, we believe, is worthy of being carried in full here:
“JetBlue is aware of reports that one of our crew members vacationing off duty in Jamaica had been required to quarantine due to coronavirus health regulations. The crew member has since safely returned to the United States after her quarantine expired.
“We have full confidence in Jamaica's health protocols and it is important everyone follows the rules. We hold each JetBlue crew member to the highest standards when it comes to personal integrity and we are conducting an urgent investigation into the actions of our crew member.”
It was a somewhat more edifying statement than that issued by the US Embassy which, even if unintended, could have given cover to Ms Kalina Collier, who is suspected by Jamaican authorities of faking her kidnapping to avoid quarantine.
Acknowledging that it was aware of reports of a US citizen “who had recently travelled to Jamaica and claimed to have been held against the individual's will”, the embassy said: “The US Government provides all appropriate consular services to US citizens in emergency situations overseas and fully investigates claims of unlawful detention; however, due to the Privacy Act of 1974, we cannot release any information about a US citizen without his or her written consent.”
While the embassy's position might be understandable, it has to be weighed against the damage being done, particularly to our already COVID-19-battered tourism industry, by Ms Collier whose claim that she was kidnapped and was being trafficked by a local hotel made the news on CNN and NBC, two of the biggest US networks.
Police said that, on arrival in Jamaica, the JetBlue employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was placed in isolation, in keeping with Jamaica's COVID-19 prevention protocols. Representatives from the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Jamaica Tourist Board were in contact with Ms Collier.
The Jamaican police, after visiting Ms Collier on February 13, 2021 to ascertain the truth of the situation, described her claim as “false, baseless and mischievous”.
However, as the allegations made the rounds on social media, many of her supporters and other sympathisers abroad called for a boycott of Jamaica. She later denied saying she was being held against her will.
JetBlue Airways clearly understands the gravity of the situation and did not do what many companies in its position tend to do — run for cover so it could not be reached, or issue a benign statement that leaves the damage done intact.
We look forward to the airline's internal investigation as only the fullest clarification can help to restore Jamaica's reputation.
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