|REDjet owner sees RED over approvals delay |
By Vernon Khelawan Thursday, March 24 2011
Caribbean travellers who have been waiting for the region’s first low fare airline to start flying around the region, will just have to wait a little longer. How much? Nobody knows.
In addition to the Barbadian civil aviation authority’s extended delay in granting REDjet an Air Operating Certificate (AOC), one of the airline’s two MD-82 jets suffered a tail-strike, during high speed taxi manoeuvres at the Grantley Adams International Airport, which resulted in damage the plane’s tail and under-section.
The MD-82 is known for its steep take-off climb. It is understood the airline’s senior pilots were at the controls at the time of the accident, which is being investigated by the authorities.
Two months ago Robbie Burns, the company’s Business Development Director was in Trinidad on a publicity trip aimed at ramping up interest in his company’s US$9.99 airfare, which does not include compulsory government taxes and other airport and security charges.
The campaign was significantly downplayed when it was alleged the Barbadian authorities instructed that the company refrain from advertising and publicity until the various approvals had been granted.
Sources in Bridgetown said an irate chairman Ian Burns is seeing red over the delay by the civil aviation body to grant the necessary approvals since the application was submitted almost a year ago.
REDjet has already hired staff, including pilots and cabin crew and completed arrangements with handling companies at the various airports it intends to serve in the region.
To make matters worse, it now has to foot a hefty bill to repair the damaged plane, which has been sent to Costa Rica for repairs. It is not known exactly how long the aircraft would be out of service.
There has been no word from the Barbadian authorities as to the reason for the delay in granting the approval for the airline to begin operations, but aviation sources in that country has hinted that the government was taking its time because it wants to maintain its international reputation.
REDjet, the new intra-Caribbean carrier has been ready for more than three months to launch a series of low cost, low fare routes across the Caribbean from Jamaica in the north to Guyana in the south. The airline has been conducting test flights and other related exercises using one of its two MD-82 jets, which is configured to seat 149 passengers in an all economy cabin.
The airline, according to Robbie Burns, will offer “the fastest, most convenient and most affordable way to travel the Caribbean.”
The privately owned airline, founded four years ago and while incorporated in St Lucia, has its corporate offices at Perimeter Road, Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados and will initially operate to and from airports in Jamaica, Port-of-Spain and Guyana as well as from its base in Barbados. Burns told Business Day, REDjet aims to become the champion of the consumer and was originally conceptualised when it was recognised how difficult and expensive it was for the travelling public to move around between the islands, whether for business or pleasure.
He insisted that “Low Fares” was not just a headline gimmick, but rather is at the core of the Low Fare Airline (LFA) business model adopted by REDjet. He assures that the airline would always be open about its fares and charges so that everyone can see what and where we charge you.
“It’s this honesty, as well as our low fares and charges that makes us different and ensure that REDjet truly will be the consumer champion.”
Burns said the passenger’s final cost depends entirely on the passenger.
“If you’re prepared to book early, book at our airport ticket desk and fly on off-peak days, you will be able to fly for (US)$9.99 plus compulsory government taxes and charges and nothing else on every route.
This is what we mean by low fares. All other charges are optional, such as checked baggage, priority boarding, call centre or web processing fee, in-flight food and drinks and flight change fees.