Air Jamaica began its operations in April,1969, with nonstop flights from Kingston and Montego Bay to New York and Miami. At that time, the airline was owned by the Government of Jamaica, with a minority interest held by Air Canada, which provided the equipment, technology, training, pilots and some top management. Through a "buy-back" agreement, the Jamaican government acquired the airline by the end of the following decade.
Through the years, Air Jamaica has expanded its routes, services and flight schedules. In 1970 and 1971, new gateways were established in Toronto and Philadelphia. Later, flights to Europe and other Caribbean destinations were introduced. In February 1982, service to Baltimore/Washington was inaugurated and the following year, the Atlanta-Jamaica route opened. In 1991, Air Jamaica established twice-weekly service from Jamaica to Nassau in the Bahamas to fill the gap left by the modified British Airways service to the region. In 1992, Air Jamaica began the first scheduled nonstop service from Orlando to Jamaica.
In November of 1994, after lengthy talks and negotiations, Air Jamaica was privatized. At present, 70% of the airline is owned by the Air Jamaica Acquisition Group, comprised of Jamaican business men, the government holds 25% with 5% of the stock reserved for employee investment. The agreement between the Government of Jamaica and the investor group provide that the airline maintain national carrier status.