REDjet subsidy ‘not the answer’
Instead of a subsidy, the Government of Barbados should seriously consider becoming a shareholder in REDjet.
This is the suggestion of aviation commentator and businessman Robert Pitcher, who told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that should Government decide to give the cash-strapped airline a subsidy, he would be next in line asking for one.
“I am saying that the Government should not subsidize REDjet. If they want to do anything to help, they should become a shareholder in REDjet. No subsidy,” he said.
On March 16, the Barbadian-based low-cost carrier unexpectedly suspended all flights after ten months of operation.
At that time, chief executive officer Ian Burns asked for regional assistance. So far, a number of stakeholders have expressed their interest in seeing REDjet in the skies again.
Pitcher said he, too, wanted to see the grounded airline back in the skies but “there is only one of three things for REDjet”.
“Either the current shareholders cough up more money to make it operational again, close it down completely, or allow the Barbados Government, if they are looking for money, to be a shareholder, not to give a subsidy.
“They should not take up taxpayers’ money to subsidize them because we are already subsidizing LIAT. It is not a moral duty for Government to subsidize REDjet. So forget that foolishness that Hamilton Lashley said,” said the frequent flyer.
He reasoned that should regional governments pump money into the airline begging for a handout, it could ultimately affect their ability to adequately subsidize LIAT and could result in the folding of the 50-plus-year-old company.
Pitcher added, “If we are going to look at REDjet with lower airfares, the Barbados Government – who is already deep into subsidizing LIAT – should not look at any more subsidies.
“They would need to look at an investment because at the end of the day, if they subsidize REDjet and REDjet continues with the affordable airfares which we all like, it means eventually LIAT may go under.”
He suggested that part of the reason why the airline was now calling for Government’s assistance was because they were trying to service the shorter routes – St Lucia, Antigua and St Marten – as opposed to long-haul destinations such as Panama, Costa Rica, New York, Miami and Jamaica.