REDjet appeals to CARICOM
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday June 2, 2011 – Amid continuing delays in starting operations in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, REDjet’s CEO and Chairman Ian Burns has turned to CARICOM for assistance.
He has written to acting Secretary General Lolita Applewhaite saying that due to the critical nature of air transport infrastructure and “the widely reported obstructionism REDjet has faced trying to enter many regional markets”, the airline wanted consideration given to a motion to support open competition for inter-regional travel, as exists in much of extra-regional travel though open skies agreements.
“The motion would include an aspect that positive political support be given to all carriers within the region to have access to every state in accordance with the Treaty of Chaguaramas insofar as it pertains to fair treatment of businesses from a Member State, as would be granted to a business resident in that state,” he wrote.
REDjet has so far been unable to secure approval to begin services to Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. It is currently only flying between Barbados and Guyana, having started that service on May 10.
The Jamaican aviation authorities have indicated, after admitting delaying consideration of the matter to facilitate the signing of the Air Jamaica/Caribbean Airlines deal, that a decision should be made this week. The authorities in Port of Spain have given no word, even after assurances from Works and Transport Minister Austin ‘Jack’ Warner that it would likely have been given late last month.
In his correspondence to Applewhaite, Burns stressed that travel throughout CARICOM must be affordable for a person of “average socioeconomic standing” and airlines like REDjet are therefore needed.
“I am sure that you will agree that we require a new approach to the provision of air services in the Caribbean, movement away from protectionism and the reliance on state supported intra-regional travel,” he said.
“REDjet sees our low fares airline as being a major regional asset which creates new potential in the region for the provision of affordable and sustainable air transport.”
Burns further argued that national and regional state-owned airlines, while providing a basic level of transport, have been a great burden on tax payers and, in large part, have failed to develop profitable business models.
The airline executive said consumers have been disadvantaged by the lack of competition, resulting in rising fares, a lack of direct connectivity with carriers and a lack of capacity in the market.
REDjet last week announced that it had scrapped plans to operate flights between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and postponed the service between Barbados and Jamaica until July 24.
However, the airline’s supporters are pushing for the carrier to get into the skies and have started an online petition, ‘Freedom of Caribbean Air Travel’ petition, to try to nudge the two countries into action.
It was started last weekend and by late this morning the number of signatures had reached almost 1,000.
Creators of the petition told Caribbean360 that the aim is to get at least 10,000 signatures.
The plan is to eventually forward the completed petition to the prime ministers and relevant ministers in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
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