St. John”s Antigua- The Chief Executive Officer of low-cost carrier REDjet is optimistic that the airline will return to the skies.
Speaking on OBSERVER Am yesterday Ian Burns said the vision to bring affordable air transportation to the region remains very alive.
“The spirit behind REDjet was the people of the Caribbean and that’s what we were doing; bringing something they wanted. Over the next coming months, that spirit of want and need will develop stronger and when that position is right, then REDjet will come back into the skies, but it may well be in another part of the Caribbean,” Burns said.
He continued that passenger numbers on the airline’s routes out of Guyana had surged by 80 per cent, while the Trinidad to Barbados route grew by 53 per cent.
“Any international expert in low cost carrying development would say that we have done well in the amount of passengers and revenues we got, which can be attributed to the fact that we brought in brand new distribution methods and the ability for people to buy tickets. The problem we faced was that the Barbados government, which is an investor in the airline and also the regulator, used its position to strangle the business and that has been a major problem,” he said.
Despite checking the market, the airline encountered difficulties that drove it out of the air.
Burns is of the view that the Barbados government and the technocrat did not want Redjet to succeed.
“Barbados created history. They are the first country in the world that has basically strangled their own airline. They did that in a number of ways. They did not invest properly as they said they would within the civil aviation authority, they were very slow and still have not granted a number of routes that we applied for over 11 months.”
He said the firm had been promised there would be no delays in establishing the new routes.
According to Burns, two of the planes belonging to REDjet’s fleet have been sold and the remaining ones have been sent to the US.
He added that when the need arises, the fleet would be replenished. He said the airline was also hoping that Barbados would assist in its efforts to set up operations in Jamaica, but that assistance has not been forthcoming.
Billed as a low-cost, no-frills carrier, the airline offered fares as low as US $9.99. The privately owned airline did not give specific reasons for the shutdown, but suggested that it was expecting “state assistance” to continue operations and blamed “subsidised” competitors for its troubles.
After ten months of operations, in a bid to “protect the long term interests of the business,” the Barbados-based airline announced in March it was suspending all flights.
The abrupt closure left more than 70 persons without work.