The cheapest airline in the Caribbean is about to take flight around the region at a price that has its competitors attacking in the media as to how sustainable the venture would be. Already these prophets of doom and gloom have taken to the airwaves to predict its ultimate failure, in order to have an "I told you so moment."
REDjet Caribbean is expected to take flight as soon as March 1, 2011. It will be servicing destinations in Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago in the first instance. This has come after suffering delays which have prevented it from taking advantage of the Christmas period, and the Carnival period in Trinidad and Tobago.
Delays were encountered because the carrier awaited licensing approval from the Barbados Civil Aviation Department, and the Air Transport Licensing Authority.
On January 24,2011 Minister of International Transport George Hutson was reported as saying, aircraft regulation was not going to be rushed as there are regulatory procedures and checks which must be followed, some of which must be done in a particular sequence to conform to international best practices.
No official word has been propagated by the mainstream media as to the start of the Redjet flights, but the March 1 start date has been mentioned on BarbadosFreePress, and Wikipedia.
REDjet airline has left many gleaming at the prospects of an airfare of US$9.99 before taxes, as the cost of a flights between Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago at this current time is somewhere in the region of US$300 inclusive of taxes.
These fares have prevented many from travelling around the region, choosing rather to go New York and Miami as the fares are almost similar. REDjet will be a welcomed addition to the available choices.
Oil prices are currently in the region of US$100 a barrel and it has begged the question as to how REDjet will survive on such low fares.
CHAIRMAN of the LIAT Board of Directors, Dr. Jean Holder, believes that persons claiming to be able to provide cheap airline services in the region "are just dreaming."
He sited the failure of many who have come and failed, and said LIAT could not survive charging US$10, nor could any other airline in the region.
He further stated that if anyone is charging less than is cost to purchase a hot-dog for air travel in the region, ask them to sell you the London Bridge as well.
RedJet originally planned to launch as a low cost carrier under the "Airone" brand in Jamaica in 2008, but were refused an AOC by the Jamaican authorities. The airline is now planning to operate two 149-seat McDonnell Douglas MD-82s which have recently been acquired from American Airlines out of Barbados, which will be its hub.
The Redjet low-cost business model is one which has taken Europe by storm. REDjet is taking its stance from Ryanair which is a European Irish own airline which has been very profitable. Ryanair is Europe's largest low-cost carrier, the 2nd-largest airline in Europe in terms of passenger numbers and the largest in the world in terms of international passenger numbers.
LIAT is planning to lay off some 100 of its 900 workers across the Caribbean after it said it would register an EC$15 million (US$5.5 million) loss on its operations last year after registering a net profit of EC$8.9 million (US$3.2 million) the previous year.
LIAT, which serves 22 destinations in the Caribbean, last year carried 1.3 million passengers as compared to 1.4 the previous year. The airline also made fewer departures, with the figure for 2010 being 46,597 as compared with 49,127 in 2009. (CMC)