REDjet's Jamaica, T&T flights delayed again
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Saturday May 14, 2011 - Just days after telling potential customers that flights to Jamaica and Trinidad had been put on hold for a little while, REDjet has had to inform them of more delays. The first Trinidad flights now won't take off until near month end and the start of the Jamaica service has been postponed until next month.
This means that for almost all of May, REDjet will only service its Barbados/Guyana route, a major disappointment for the airline in its first month in the skies.
The airline told passengers booked on Trinidad flights, via email yesterday, that "due to political delays in Trinidad & Tobago beyond our control, REDjet cannot operate flights between Barbados to Trinidad until 29th May."
"REDjet has made all of the required submissions and complied with all of the requirements and is extremely disappointed for all passengers affected. A decision which was due yesterday (Thursday) has not been received and as such we have been forced to take this action," it added.
The Barbados-based carrier was supposed to have its inaugural Trinidad flight on May 8, but because it did not have all the necessary approvals, that was cancelled and the airline's first flight was two days later, taking passengers from Barbados to Guyana. However, after discussions with Trinidad and Tobago's Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner, REDjet late last week set a May 15 date for the start of its service and informed customers accordingly.
Warner had said then that the Airline Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA), which was appointed on Monday, was to discuss the REDjet approval and he would then send a note to Cabinet which he expected to give the final nod. He'd also said he would have sought the requirement to have confirmation of the approval waived to allow for the May 15 start-up.
The story of more delays was similar for those waiting to fly to Jamaica. Earlier this week, REDjet told passengers expecting to fly between Barbados and Jamaica from May 11 that it could not operate flights between that date and May 24.
The latest email to customers read: "Due to political and regulatory actions in Jamaica beyond our control, REDjet cannot operate flights between Trinidad to Jamaica until 6th June. As a result, we regrettably announce that passengers booked on 10 scheduled flights between Trinidad and Jamaica will not be able to travel as planned."
REDjet added that it was forced into that decision as a result of delays in processing the final paperwork in Jamaica on behalf of the authorities in Jamaica.
The company has claimed that the delays in entering that market have to do with Caribbean Airlines (CAL) which is still finalizing its merger with Air Jamaica.
Business Development Manager Robbie Burns, in a response to a query on its Facebook page, said the government of Jamaica had delayed on delivering a commitment made to the airline and that other regional carriers were attempting to delay and deny previously approved access, in order to prevent competition.
"I can confirm that CAL has objected to REDjet flying to Trinidad and Jamaica as they are claiming that as a designated airline of Barbados that Barbados cannot designate another airline. This was confirmed by a senior member of the Trinidad negotiating team. I cannot confirm that CAL has placed the condition on REDjet not being allowed to fly into Jamaica as a requirement to complete the Air Jamaica acquisition. However we have it from a Ministry official in Jamaica and would trust its credibility," Burns also told the media.
"It is fair to say to say that what CAL is looking to do is take over not Air Jamaica but rather exclusive access and control of Jamaican skies and air services. This means that CAL is effectively securing a monopoly to the detriment of the economy and consumer," he added.
The CAL/Air Jamaica merger was expected to be completed by April 30. However, the deadline was missed because of failure to finalise several legal documents, according to media reports.
The head of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, Colonel Oscar Derby, has acknowledged there is a challenge in granting REDjet approval but has declined to give details, saying that such matters are confidential.
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