T&T: No Govt help for REDjet

Time for Aviation Authority to revoke airline's licence, says minister

(Trinidad Express) Transport Minister Devant Maharaj was yesterday sympathetic to the employees and customers of low-fares carrier REDjet but was unsympathetic to the airline’s plea for financial assistance from regional governments.

He said the Trinidad and Tobago Government could not assist the Irish-owned but Barbados-based company.

“REDjet came in here with their eyes wide open. I am sure they would have done a feasibility study on the proposition of a low-cost carrier on the Caribbean market and whether it made economic sense,” he told the Sunday Express by phone.

He pointed out that prior to REDjet’s arrival, the T&T Civil Aviation Authority had expressed reservations about the quality of REDjet’s two aircraft, which have been troubled by breakdown issues.

“Clearly, they did not also factor in the Caribbean culture for food and baggage,” said Maharaj.

He said to ask the Government for a subsidy was “expecting a lot”.

“The Government can’t expose itself as a guarantor to a private enterprise,” he told the Sunday Express.

He pointed out that an air operation licence which REDjet possessed was prized by countries and should not be taken trivially.

“Perhaps it is now time for the Civil Aviation Authority to revoke their licence if it cannot be properly respected,” he said.

On Friday evening, REDjet, which is less than a year old, announced it was suspending operations because of airfares of other regional carriers and high fuel costs.

Yesterday, Caribbean Airlines said it started to put measures in place in response to the recent announcement that REDjet had suspended its operations.

“Mindful of the impact that this sudden suspension that has left passengers and families stranded, our scheduled operations will be adjusted by adding additional seats for sale. As all of their routes we already serve,” the airline said.

“Caribbean Airlines is well positioned to meet the travel demands of our regional passengers. We will continue to provide added value and will serve our customers with a reliable and flexible schedule that is all-inclusive. We have no intention of adjusting our fares upwards and have planned significant capacity for the Easter and summer vacations as we enter into our wide body programme.”