REDjet flights between Guyana and two destinations in neighbouring Brazil, Boa Vista and Manaus could be introduced from early next year. The new low-cost airline has also set its sights on providing a service between Guyana and Venezuela, according to Business Development Officer Robbie Burns.
In an exclusive interview earlier this week, Burns, who was in Guyana for business meetings in connection with the September 12 launch of the REDjet service between Georgetown and Port of Spain said that the carrier could quickly become the Guyana’s biggest aviation service provider between Georgetown and both the Caribbean and South America. “We’re probably looking at providing services to Manaus and Boa Vista at around US$30.00 Burns said.
Extensive plans for the rapid expansion of the REDjet service between Guyana and destinations in both the Caribbean and South America are unfolding against the backdrop of the planned purchase of three new 149-seater MD-82 aircraft, the first of which will be operational in November this year. The two other aircraft will take to the skies in the region next year. Burns said that the company is currently in discussions with the authorities here regarding the permanent location of an aircraft and crew here but added that the rate of expansion of the REDjet service out of Guyana will depend on aviation fuel costs which are currently higher in Guyana than in other Caribbean territories.
And according to Burns the REDjet service between Guyana and Barbados, launched on May 10 this year has been a significant success for the company and a major boost to travel between the two CARICOM countries. Since the start of the service four months ago seat occupancy has reached 83 per cent of capacity. Up to a few days ago REDjet, which currently offers four flights a week between Guyana and Barbados had transported 12,500 passengers on 130 scheduled flights. From October 6th the airline will be providing a fifth flight to Barbados and according to Burns once daily flights on the route could quickly become a reality. Burns said that the Guyana-Barbados service broke even after four weeks and became profitable after seven weeks.
Asked to assess the impact of the new service Burns said that there was evidence of more travel between the two countries by students, businessmen, holiday makers and sports teams. “In fact, sports teams account for 15 per cent of our passengers,” Burns told Stabroek Business.
According to Burns, REDjet has, since the launch of its service between Guyana and Barbados, delivered 100 per cent of its scheduled 130 flights and had recorded a 96 per cent on-time arrival rate. He said that over the period the service had experienced one immigration-related departure delay and a single luggage delay.
Meanwhile, Burns told Stabroek Business that the company expects its service between Georgetown and Port of Spain to be a comparable success given its assessment of the market. According to Burns, the service, which will commence with four flights weekly, is likely to increase to a daily service next year. According to Burns REDjet‘s commitment to serving Guyana had been influenced largely by the Government of Guyana’s policy of embracing the principle of competition in the aviation sector in the Caribbean.
With effect from Monday last, the Antigua-based regional airline LIAT announced that it will be reintroducing a fuel surcharge on tickets in the wake of continual fuel price rises. Asked to comment on the likely impact of fuel price rises on REDjet fares Burns said that the issue of increasing fares does not arise in the case of REDjet. “We have budgeted for fuel costs of up to US$150.00 a barrel. At the moment fuel is costing us US$83.00 a barrel.” Burns said. Burns told Stabroek Business that REDjet had already secured a licence from the authorities in St John’s to go ahead with its service between Guyana and Antigua from early next year.