Submitted by Looking Glass
Redjet reminds one of a dying man gasping for breath. The CEO, having claimed to have met with Caricom officials, is claiming fictional success and profitability almost everywhere except St Vincent and attributing success to the Prime Minister. He told the Nation (7/20/2011) that your “intervention paved the way for Redjet to fly to Trinidad and Jamaica.” We supposedly own 51% of the airline and have a minister on the board but so far not a word from the PM or anyone there. Is this a case of fiction following fiction? Now we hear that Redjet is seeking to operate a charter service between Florida and Dominica, and six new low fare routes will include Panama and Antigua in three months time. Does Redjet have license to operate out of the USA or anywhere beside Barbados and Guyana? And through it all the normally very critical opposition remains strangely silent
The Advocate (8/9/2011) reported that Redjet received licences to operate scheduled passenger air services to and fromTrinidad,GuyanaandJamaicaand intermediate and beyond points were granted “in accordance with the agreement between the governments ofBarbadosandTrinidadand beyond their respective territories.” The Trinidad Express (8/6/2011) reported the same thing and that St Lucia’s Civil Aviation Minister told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) “the airline was granted entry into their market a couple of months ago and could begin flying in October……We had meetings in Panama with Redjet with the idea of getting Redjet to operate into Panama both out of St Lucia and Barbados.”
The Pride (Toronto) (10/8/2011) noted that “the licences were granted in keeping an ‘open skies’ agreement between Port of Spainand Bridgetownthat allows for mutual recognition of carriers and automatic permission for air services between and beyond their respective territories.” The “open skies” policy is an ‘agreement’ between certain countries to which none of the islands are signatory. That Trinidad whose airline (CAL) doesn’t serviceBarbados has or will facilitate Redjet makes no sense. The PM stated that competition between Redjet and Liat should be seen as good for business and “part and parcel of the right to freedom of movement as enshrined in the Treaty of Chaguaramas” (Advocate 7/6/2011). The Treaty relates to land sold to theUSA ages ago. It has nothing at all to do withBarbados or the islands. That you were told this falsehood by a certain soul inTrinidad evokes more than suspicion.
Liat services Trinidad. The country owns both CAL and Jamaica Airlines which means they service the region. With those airlines we get every dollar the passenger spent for the trip. The same does not hold true for Redjet. That all the governments involved have chosen to remain silent on the CEO’s utterances suggests they all want to see the end of Redjet. If so it is about time to say goodbye. The PM also maintained the presence of Redjet “did not mean any overnight diminution of Liat’s patronage.” And the tourism minister tells us Redjet is the best thing that could happen to Liat (Advocate 6/8/2011). No wonder Liat cancelled flights.
Mr. Burns also told the Antigua Daily Observer that “the Antiguan authorities have granted Redjet permission to begin flights toSt. John. The airline plans to inaugurate a direct Antigua-Guyana route by early October.” He also stressed that “only15 percent of the 149 seats were available at that price (US$9.99), and increases by ten dollar increments with each day closer to the departure date and as demand grows…Ticket purchases are only available online, by credit card over the phone to the airline and through Digital mobile phone airtime sellers…The airline has repeated its policy of cancellation of all bookings not paid for 24 hours before the scheduled departure time.”
Are tickets sold the same way and 15% of the seats available per flight to all the islands? How come we weren’t told? Jet fuel cost rose by 51% in the last year. The chief economist at the airline industry body warned that “soaring oil prices and tax increases mean that passengers will pay much more for tickets by year end” (Telegraph 30/8/2011). Redjet will have to operate at well above break-even per flight for low fares to obtain. Given the state of actual demand and cost, 40% occupancy per flight is at best wishful thinking (Redjet: Cheap Flights and Validity).
Ryanair recently lost a case in the German court over the “handling charges” it imposed on customers booking on line with payment by credit or debit card. It increased the cost of luggage per return trip, charges 20 pounds for each Babe in arms (under 2 years old), more than one pound a cup of coffee, a bottle of water and toilet use which is more that other non-schedule airlines. Those charges along with other ancillary charges account for much of revenue. Can Redjet forego such charges and be profitable? Virgin is about the only non-schedule airline where none of the above apply. It offers a free meal and a drink and operates like a first class schedule airline.
The Caribbean Camera (9/1/2011) reports that demand for its service had prompted the airline to add a new aircraft. “Our low fares and on-time flights have proven to be extremely popular and the airline is expanding our frequency on all of our routes to cope with the demand…. announced the launch of its Trinidad to Guyana service with 4 flights per week starting September 12… and it is still to announce what date Jamaica will be added to the network of routes.” Next the communication executive told the Nation (9/2/2011) the aircraft experienced problems with its hydraulic system.
Now we are told that the hydraulic problems were “exacerbated” by Hurricane Irene, 11 flights were cancelled, 15 delayed and 182 of the 953 persons affected placed on other flights (Advocate9/7/2011). Of all the airlines servicing the region at the time the Redjet plane was the only one to have been seriously damaged by the hurricane. Hydraulic problems attest to the state of the 2 old planes and raises the question of safety. With two planes and a single crew the cancellation and or delay of 26 flights in such a short space of time needs to be verified, so too the destination(s) of those affected. Convenient explanations just do not add up.
Frankly I do not believe the Cabinet was consulted and government approved the airline as was reported. Economics apart that no government except Guyanahas formally or officially granted licence to Redjet suggests, to put it nicely non-interest. Incompetence suggests the airline’s days to be numbered even with the granting of licences. Redjet reflects and undermines Caricom relations, reflects poorly on the Party and is/will be very costly to the country and Family in more ways than one.
Mr. PM you were given the opportunity to correct the 51% ownership falsehood but chose not to. Check with Washingtonand the Irish Times. The latter tells a different story. Recall the question about personal benefits in About Rising Prices and Oil. Are they other private and personal benefits involved? No wonder your reluctance to undertake the forensic study. We can ill afford the luxury of a few souls taking the country further down the drain for personal and private benefits. May be the time is right for such benefits and or related corruption to be told.
According to the Gleaner (12/7/2007) Airone “expected to bring to Jamaica over 300000 new passengers in the first year of operation and grow that number to over 600000 in 2 years …promised fares as low as 80% below current fares offered by airlines flying to Jamaica and other Caribbean destinations…generate 220 skilled jobs in the first year of operation contribute 2.0% to the country GDP and US$65m in taxes to the government. It planned to operate 5 new Boeing 737s in the first 8 months and expand to 8 aircraft in 2 years.” This before Trinidadwent after Jamaica Airline and the recession. Jamaicasaid no thanks. Later he added “a staff complement of 95 is now awaiting the Barbados’ Civil Aviation authority’s green light.”(Gleaner (2/6/2011). Really?
Later the Advocate (8/ 8/ 2011) was told that “Redjet will add 75000 low fare seats into the Caribbeanover the coming 12 months and 400000 of those will touch Barbados.” Imagine 5 Boeing jets are needed to bring 300000 to next door Jamaicain 8 months but only 2 old planes to bring 400.000 from distant places all the way to Barbados. This at a time of deep recession when cruise lines and North American airlines are bypassing Barbados and increasing flights etc to Jamaica, Dominica and elsewhere, St. Lucia getting more airlift and West Jet increasing flights to Mexico by a bundle from 19 Canadian cities. Man comic books make much more sense. He also noted that since Redjet has been in operation “fares dropped by 72% on the routes which it operates….and that Redjet has already made a profit from its Barbados to Guyana route,” which is an insult to fiction The first of three flights to Guyana was full, the other two had less than 30 % occupancy and the return flights less than 15% occupancy. None of the other flights had 50% occupancy either way. Sounds like a case of convenient accounting
And falsehood continues. Now we are told that over 700000 visitors between January and July this year with 59270 arriving last month (Advocate8/11/2011)). And the tourism minister is upbeat about arrivals (Nation8/19/2011). He should explain why so many guest houses/small hotels are up for sale.