New REDjet routes possible by summer
Talks on starting new routes are progressing, one of the airline’s executives says.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday May 18,2 011 – Even as it remains stalled from operating in two Caribbean countries, the region’s first low-cost carrier REDjet says it’s making progress in talks with about 13 other countries on starting new routes, and could announce additional services as early as summer.
But the airline isn’t saying just yet what the new destinations are likely to be.
The Barbados-based airline currently only flies to Guyana, as it’s still awaiting approval for the Jamaica and Trinidad services it has been advertising.
While it awaits the green light for those routes, REDjet is exploring others. Business Development Manager Robbie Burns says discussions with authorities in some of the other potential destinations are at an advanced stage.
“Some (talks) are quite late and some are quite early in the stage,” he said on local radio station, Starcom Network. “We won’t reveal who we’re speaking to but it involves a lot of the major countries across the region…Our jet aircraft are suited to some of the longer routes in terms of distance and also in terms of frequency of passengers, and the density of the route so I think we will be announcing within the next two to three months our next wave of routes.”
Burns made it clear, though, that REDjet remains committed to flying our passengers into Trinidad and Tobago.
The airline has accused Trinidad of blocking its entry into the market to protect its national carrier, Caribbean Airlines, which is in the process of finalizing its merger with Air Jamaica.
Flights to Trinidad were to begin since May 8 but there was a delay in REDjet getting official approval by that time. The airline had been given assurances from Minister of Transport and Works Austin ‘Jack’ Warner, after meeting with him and other government officials on May 5, that the Board of the Airline Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) would deal with the REDjet matter as a priority when it was put in place last Monday, and he would then send a note to Cabinet on May 12 so that flights could start around May 15.
However, REDjet has still received no response.
Director General of the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority (TTCAA) Ramesh Lutchmedial has told the Trinidad Guardian newspaper that the delay in giving approval has to do with a review of the carrier’s certification.
“Subsequent to the statement of Francis Regis, the executive manager of TTCAA on May 5th, which said that REDjet had satisfied all the requirements-new information had surfaced that necessitated a review of REDjet’s certification,” he told the newspaper.
“There are still outstanding operational issues that need to be resolved…This must be addressed before we make our recommendation to the Air Transport Licensing Authority Board, which is responsible for commercial and economic issues and granting the final approval.”
Meantime, the ATLA issued a statement yesterday saying that it had not received any application from REDjet.
However, REDjet Chairman and CEO Ian Burns said his company submitted an application, via email, the day after the new ATLA Board was appointed.
“I don’t know what happened between then and now for ATLA to issue a statement saying otherwise,” he said.
REDjet has called on senior statesmen from Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados to “step and in cut through the protectionism and red tape being used to prevent fair competition and ensure international agreements are honoured for taxpayers and consumers”.
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