Safety concerns holding up REDjet licenseThursday, June 16, 2011
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – Transport ministers from Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago have held talks here on the introduction of the low cost budget carrier, REDjet, indicating that a licence would not be granted to the carrier to fly the Port of Spain and Kingston route until safety concerns are addressed.
The meeting comes less than a week after Jamaica's Prime Minister Bruce Golding had said that he intended to hold talks with his counterparts in the two Caribbean countries to sort out the issues confronting the Barbados-based REDjet.
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 there was agreement that the region must maintain its proud safety record.
"The fact that the three of us (ministers) are now working in sync that should be a catalyst for a quick approach to a resolution," Warner said, adding that the decision to meet came following a directive from the three regional prime ministers.
He said the Caribbean has a history of airline safety that they are not willing to jepoardise.
His Barbados counterpart, George Hutson said his Bridgetown 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.
But 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," he said. "As we said, going forward we will be meeting from time to time to iron out that particular issue."
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".
Henry in Trinidad to address REDjet issue