The Caribbean Low Fare Airline
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
July 04, 2011 (CUOPM)
As the REDjet issue simmers in the Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas says the new low-fare airline will be welcomed to operate into and out of the twin-island Federation.
Dr. Douglas, the current Chairman of the regional integration movement CARICOM disclosed Sunday night in an interview that the government is looking at an application from REDjet to operate on the route, Barbados-St. Kitts-St. Maarten and to another Caribbean island.
He told the media at an end of Conference press briefing on Monday that although it is important to have a more affordable and reliable air transportation within the CARICOM Community, “we obviously must be concerned about the sensitivities in preserving those regional airlines that are plying the same route within the Community.”
“It is not a case of trying at all to prevent competition, but ensuring that the sensitivities surrounding this issue are also completely understood,” Prime Minister Douglas told reporters.
A CMC report said Barbados has indicated it will not be a mortician and fight over “a corpse called regional integration” as the war of words continue over the licensing requirement for the region’s first ever low budget airline, REDjet.
Barbados Prime Minister Hon. Freundel Stuart told reporters that his administration wanted to know how the game is being played with regards to Caribbean countries providing licences to airlines to operate within the region.
“I say this…I do not intend that Barbados should be in the position of any mortician fighting a corpse called regional integration movement. I know what happened with the West Indian federation. I know how the mortician work and Barbados has always stoutly defended the regional integration, has been a leader in the regional integration movement and that will not change under my leadership.
“We in Barbados certified REDjet in Barbados as safe. We are being second-guessed on that. Other people certify their aircraft and we don’t second-guess them.
“I made that point at the meeting (CARICOM Summit) but if this is the way these issues are going to be handled, I only want to know the rules. I just want to know how people are playing the game; I can play the game as well as they can play it,” a visibly upset Stuart told reporters.
But his Trinidad and Tobago counterpart, the Hon. Kamla Persad Bissessar told reporters later that her country has raised safety concerns about the airline that has been seeking to enter the Trinidad and Tobago market.
“We are of the view that the safety of our nationals is paramount and, therefore, given the flags that we raised, complications of the aircraft, we are of the view that those should first be dealt with before we can go forward with the matter,” she said, noting that a suggestion was made for the civil aviation authorities from Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago to look into her government’s safety concerns.
Prime Minister Stuart accused Port of Spain of conducting a smear campaign against REDjet, noting that at a meeting held in Trinidad last month with the relevant ministers of civil aviation, Barbados Minister of International Transport George Hutson was shown apparently questionable photographs about the airline.
He said that the Trinidad and Tobago government has up to now not responded to a request for certification of the said photographs.
“He (Hutson) was told that they (pictures) had to do with REDjet. He asked to have them certified, so they refused according to what he (Hutson) told me. And the next thing we knew that they (photographs) were on the Internet and the smear campaign against REDjet continued,” Stuart said.
REDjet has not yet been able to obtain the necessary green light to operate between Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica even though it operates a schedule flight to Guyana.