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REDjet talks to expand operations

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

REDjet talks to expand operations

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Transport ministers from Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago ended talks here on Wednesday promising to provide the necessary documents required by the Caribbean’s first low budget carrier to expand its operations in the region.
Jamaica’s Transport Minister Michael Henry described the talks here as “very productive” even as his colleagues made it clear that the licence would only be provided once they are certain that the proud safe aviation history of the Caribbean is not affected as the Barbados-based REDjet moves to expand its operations by flying the Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago routes.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Works and Transport Minister Austin “Jack” Warner told reporters that the issue of safety had been raised during the talks here and that the ministers had agreed on a common position for ensuring that the airline meets the strict standards for safety.
“The fact is that our Civil Aviation Department has some concerns which shall be looked at by the suitable departments in Barbados and Jamaica and collectively those three civil aviation departments will come up with one common approach and a response to whatever concerns they are.”
Warner said that the issue could “take a week or two weeks…but what I do know the fact that the three of us are now working in sync that should be a catalyst for a quick approach to a resolution”.
The meeting here came a few days after Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding  said that he intended holding talks with his counterparts in the two Caribbean countries to sort out the issues confronting the Barbados-based REDjet.
Barbados-Transport Minister George Huston said the country understood the concerns of both Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, noting that it was their right to address those issues before allowing any airline to operate out of their countries.
“There are a few issues that are going to be worked on and addressed and I am assured that once those issues have been addressed the operations of the aircraft into the respective jurisdictions should proceed.
“That is really the fundamental issue we have agreements between our respective states in terms of the various routes, rights that will be afforded to the carriers of Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica and I am assured once we addressed those outstanding issues that we would be able to have the REDjet aircraft flying between our respective countries.”
Huston told reporters that those discussions should have taken place earlier.
“Maybe if we had had a meeting like this sometime last year it would have avoided some of what has been said in the press.
“As we said, going forward we will be meeting from time to time to iron out that particular issue,” he added.
Henry told the news conference that from Jamaica’s perspective “the safety concepts that relates (to REDjet) is very important, but we have the technical people who have to review what is necessary.
“Indeed we want to see as many airlines flying in many directions as possible and we are offering any airline that wants to come in. There are new routes that are not being served, areas that are not being served.
“So in the context of it we have had a very productive meeting and a clear position wjere we want to go,” Henry told reporters
In April, REDjet announced that it would be flying between Jamaica and Barbados as of May 8.
But the airline has been experiencing administrative problems in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica and has had to cancel its operations for a period. REDjet now services the Barbados to Guyana route.
Earlier this week, REDjet accused regional industry players of seeking to frustrate the progress of the airline.
Director of Development, Robbie Burns, said that the airline would not be deterred by the efforts to stop its expansion throughout the region.
“This is a long term strategy that we have to enter the market with low fares and bring competition to the market,” he said noting that there had been a monopoly situation existing in the region where the entrance of others have been ‘delayed or slowed down”. (CMC)

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