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Gonsalves: No sympathy for REDjet

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Gonsalves: No sympathy for REDjet

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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, April 3, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he has no sympathy for the financial problems facing the Barbados-based low cost carrier, REDjet, adding that he was never informed as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) lead prime minister on air transport of its operations in the Caribbean.
“Nobody in any country in CARICOM wrote me or told me about it. None of the countries where REDjet was servicing (informed me). None. The owners of REDjet did not come and see me and tell me what they were doing, so I interpreted that as there was no interest in having the CARICOM air transport spokesperson get involved in their business,” Gonsalves told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
On Monday, a senior Barbados government minister said that efforts were being made to have the low-cost carrier resume operations within a two month period.
Trinidad and Tobago over the weekend announced that it had revoked the licences granted to the carrier that last month suspended its services to various regional destinations.
Billed as a low-cost, no-frills carrier initially offering fares as low as US$9.99, the privately-owned airline did not give specific reasons for the shutdown last month, but suggested that it was expecting state assistance to continue operations and blamed “subsidised” competitors for its troubles.
“REDjet is hopeful that we will be given a small part of the state assistance others receive, as it will allow us to get our recently approved and exciting new routes established and profitable. Once this happens our shareholders and staff will do their utmost to see that there is no return to high fares and business as usual”, the company said in a statement then.
But Gonsalves, who has renewed a call for a regional meeting on aviation, told CMC that he had no intention of getting involved in the any action to save the airline, adding “let me say this, REDjet is privately owned, Caribbean Airlines (CAL) is owned by the governments of Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, LIAT is owned by the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“The statement by REDjet 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 CAL continues to receive substantial subsidies in fuel from the government of Trinidad and Tobago”.