REDjet lays off staff
With only one route being serviced, the region’s newest airline has had to send home some of its crew temporarily.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday June 8, 2011 – Less than a month after it started flights, low-cost regional carrier REDjet says it has been forced to lay off eight of its cabin crew because they’re being under-utilised while the airline awaits clearance to fly to Jamaica and Trinidad.
The Barbados-based carrier, which offers US$9.99 base fares, currently only flies to Guyana.
The company said yesterday that removing the eight workers from active duty, starting last Friday, was a difficult decision but one that had to be made.
“The protracted regulatory delays in the commencement of flights to Trinidad and Jamaica lead to the severe under utilisation of these persons’ skills,” it said. “REDjet has assured these persons that they are preferentially aligned to resume duties once the airline is able to commence its full schedule of flights.”
The airline employs 86 people.
REDjet supporters have been calling on the governments in Port of Spain and Kingston to stop holding up services that are expected to provide stiff competition for other regional carriers, Caribbean Airlines and LIAT.
A petition started by one group late last month has attracted over 1,900 signatures so far. However, it was only yesterday that senior government officials made a public appeal for REDjet to be allowed to fly.
During discussion on aviation matters in Parliament, Tourism Minister Richard Sealy said the government would “continue to engage at every level to see to it that REDjet becomes a reality”.
He pledged the Freundel Stuart administration’s support in getting the other routes off the ground, stressing the employment and other benefits it would provide.
“It is about creating a whole industry that can see jobs, that can see investment...The truth is, REDjet will do as much for tourism in some of our competitors as it may do for us, but we don't mind because this is another opportunity for jobs and for further investment," he said.
The government had been criticised for not being vocal in its support for REDjet.
Among the critics was Opposition parliamentarian Ronald Toppin, a former minister state in the tourism and international transport ministry. He accused the government of remaining silent on the way REDjet was being treated and made specific reference to Minister of International Transport George Hutson.
“If REDjet fails or collapses it is a direct reflection on this Government and in particular on the minister,” he said, adding that if the airline survives and thrives, however, there would be tremendous benefit to Barbados and the rest of the region.
REDjet had its corporate launch in October last year and this April began advertising fares for travel to and from Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana and Jamaica. The inaugural flight was to be on May 8 with service to Trinidad, but without the approval from authorities there, the first flight to Guyana took off two days later.
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