The T&T refusal of REDjet is intended to protect Caribbean Airlines

Dear Editor,

Trinidad’s refusal to allow REDjet to fly aims to monopolize Guyana market. President Jagdeo in a press briefing a few days ago summarized well the issue of REDjet Airlines not being allowed to fly the skies of Trinidad and Jamaica. But now that Guyana and Barbados will be members of a safety review team that Port–of–Spain requested, the public can expect a quick resolution.

For decades BWIA (Bwee), now Caribbean Airlines, cognizant of the fact that it is the only carrier out of Guyana, kept airfares high, discriminated against Guyanese passenger by not offering them  financial compensation, meals or hotels for delayed, cancelled flights or left luggage. Their airfares are still exorbitant and services remain poor.

Now the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar is battling to save Caribbean Airlines by denying Guyana alternate air hubs and competitive airfares.  Ironically, she condemned the Bwee/Air Jamaica deal while campaigning. Now that Trinidad and Jamaica own Caribbean Airlines, and she is the Prime Minister of Trinidad, she is not willing to support competition.  Basically, she attempts to stop Guyanese travellers from paying less than US$400 (round-trip) from Guyana to Trinidad. Moreover, she knows that Guyanese passengers can fly REDjet to Port–of–Spain where they can get a US$400 round-trip to New York or to Kingston where they can pick up a Bwee round-trip ticket to New York for US$325.  This will also entice Guyanese to make stopovers in the Caribbean on their way to Guyana.

Guyana is Caribbean Airline’s “bread and butter” according to insiders. CAL makes great profit from the Guyana hub. Guyanese passengers have little choices, and this is what the Prime Minister of Trinidad wants to maintain.  However, she is now questioning the safety and pricing policy of REDjet.

Interestingly, President Jagdeo of Guyana a few days ago rebuked her when he said, “So it’s not safe for you to fly our ordinary people but it’s safe for the cricketers (to fly REDjet). I find this very unusual.”  He continued, “I was surprised to hear that people were saying that REDjet was practicing predatory pricing because their business model has been tested already in Europe; Ryan Air has the same business model, many of the low budget carriers have the same business model.”  Giving Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar an education on REDjet’s pricing, since she said that, the Guyanese president declared, “When you hear $9 for a ticket it is not all tickets that are sold at $9, it ratchets up and the average price is maybe $150 to Barbados which is a reasonable rate compared to what Bwee (Caribbean Airlines) is doing. Bwee has taken advantage of Guyana because they are the main carrier.”

President Jagdeo should continue to ardently work to open the skies of the Caribbean and attract air carriers to Guyana.

Yours faithfully,
Ray Chickrie

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