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OUR CARIBBEAN: REDjet – high on assurances, low on performances

Rickey Singh

OUR CARIBBEAN: REDjet – high on assurances, low on performances

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When it comes to seeking and obtaining favourable publicity, particularly in the Barbados media, even the detractors of REDjet airline would concede that it has been doing quite a remarkable job.
Assurances of less frustration and costly inconveniencies for stranded passengers – moreso on the Barbados/Guyana route – as well about having more aircraft to supplement its current two, have been repeatedly expressed via the media.
More recently, as if to raise further expectations, the airline’s public relations arm has been busy getting chairman Ian Burns to disclose how its “stakeholders” (precisely who are they?) had come to the “rescue” for the purchase of a third aircraft with possibly two more during 2012. Further, that flights will shortly begin to Jamaica and also on a new Guyana-Antigua route.
The latter case is quite surprising for two reasons. First, Antigua and Barbuda has long been the hub for regional airline LIAT and its workers would understandably be concerned about the inplications of such a development with REDJet.
Secondly, and relatedly, it was Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda who had recently gone public with his appeal for other governments of the region to share the responsibility of helping LIAT to meet its financial challenges with some of the sort of subsidies they often readily offer to facilitate business with foreign-owned airlines.  
Now that REDjet’s chairman Ian Burns has been stirring expectations for flight arrangements on six new routes, including destinations like Panama, Jamaica and St Martin, while also pointing to claimed profits earned by the airline, perhaps the time has come for the company’s public relations handlers to inform the region of some basic information.
For instance, who are the “owners” of  REDjet; the source(s) of funding, including the $6 million recently announced for expansion of the airline’s fleet of aircraft; and also some precise data on profits earned.
Had REDjet been a state-owned or public entity, there would have been much demand, and rightly so, for basic information on its decision-makers’ funding operations; unionised workers; profits and losses.
Truth is that for all the free publicity being earned by REDjet, there remain lingering concerns about the circumstances surrounding the launch of this Barbadian-based airline with its heavy emphasis as a “low-cost” carrier, but with comparative scant respect for “openness” in relation to ownership, management and capacity to deliver the quality and reliability of services so easily spoken about.
It is also high time all the shareholders of LIAT let the public know where they stand on the need to broaden the base of support for this regional airline and why the discrimination in offering of subsidies to airlines.