REDjet licence pulled by T&T

BY PAUL ALLEN Business reporter allenp@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

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LOW-COST airline REDjet has suffered another blow even as a rival carrier prepares to take off from Jamaica.


The Barbadian-owned airline had its licence to fly to Trinidad and Tobago revoked by that country's aviation authority, two weeks after suspending all its flights, as Fly Jamaica announced that it was on course to launch its new service by the end of the month.


REDjet's woes were compounded when the prime minister of St Vincent, Ralph Gonsalves, revealed that he had been slighted by the airline, reported the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).


Gonsalves, the lead prime minister in the Caribbean Community (Caricom), said he was not made aware of the airline's intent to fly within the region.


"The owners of REDjet did not come and see me and tell me what they were doing ," Gonsalves told the CMC. "So I interpreted that as there was no interest in having the Caricom air transport spokesperson get involved in their business."


A senior Barbados government minister said on Monday that efforts were being made to have the low-cost carrier resume operations within two months.


After repeated reports of financial problems, REDjet suspended all its flights a fortnight ago. The airline blamed heavily subsidised airlines for its difficulties, claiming in a release that "unlike us, they do not have to be profitable to stay in business".


Gonsalves conceded that "the market is not on a level footing.... They are quite correct about that in one important respect, and that is to say that Caribbean Airlines (CAL) continues to receive substantial subsidies in fuel from the government of Trinidad and Tobago."


Fly Jamaica, the latest airline to test the turbulent Jamaican skies, is however, on course to take off by the end of this month, said its in-flight manager, Christine Steele.


The airline is carrying out intensive training sessions with its staff, including flight attendants and pilots. "We just did the final drill with the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) to show that we are qualified, she said.


The company has only one aircraft now, but Steele said there are plans to acquire another by year's end. Their aircraft, a Boeing 757-200, can carry 198 passengers.


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