REDjet launches Trinidad route
By Allison Ramsay
After facing challenges concerning permission to land in Trinidad and Tobago, the newest regional airline, REDjet, finally took to the skies from Barbados and touched down at the Piarco International Airport yesterday afternoon.
Speaking at a press conference at the Grace Adams Suite at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) before the inaugural flight left Barbados, Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, stated that Government is quite happy to have this REDjet service between Barbados and Trinidad because Trinidad is a significant market for the country.
Noting that CARICOM visitors represent a third of the Barbados tourism market, particularly Trinidadian visitors, the Tourism Minister said that Government is seeking more movement in and out of Barbados.
According to him, Government is supporting REDjet, but it does not wish to see any providers for regional travel fail.
“It is not that we wish ill on providers of regional travel. In fact, we would like to see everyone doing well, but if we have more players involved and more competition, the consumers will benefit,” said Minister Sealy.
He said better fares can be offered and the quality of service will improve. “Indeed, everyone will benefit. The support for REDjet does not mean that we want to see the others fail. I genuinely believe we can all succeed.”
Minister Sealy said that already REDjet has close to 2 000 Trinidadians who want to come to Barbados for either Crop Over, the Rihanna LOUD concert or both.
He added that competitors have also seen an increase in bookings for this period “so already we are starting to see that increase in activity.”
According to the CEO of REDjet, Ian Burns, REDjet’s goal is that through CARICOM, a true open skies agreement will exist on a multilateral basis and not just on a bilateral basis between certain countries and the United States of America.
“While the Caribbean has a long way to go before we operate under true Open Skies Policies, the permissions granted to and routes being opened up to REDjet is a small but major step in the development of regional aviation,” said Burns.
CEO and President of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA), David Rice, stated that 55 per cent of arrivals to Barbados come from Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. Of this percentage, 32 per cent of arrivals come from Trinidad.
“It tells you that we are doing the right thing in having this airline operating here,” said Rice.
REDjet officials and its investors, representatives of the BTA, the Ministry of Tourism and the media were among passengers on the hour-long flight to Port-Of-Spain flown by captain Steven Gullberg and his crew. Protocol and Facilitation Coordinator for the Airport Authority, Joan Brammer greeted Burns when he disembarked the aircraft. There were 40 passengers on board.
Upon arrival in Trinidad, Barbados and Trinidad officials addressed a press conference for Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana media personnel.
In attendance at that press conference were Trinidad’s Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Delmon Baker; Minister in the Ministry of People and Social Development, Dr. Lincoln Douglas; and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Melba Dedier.
When interviewed by the media, Minister Douglas said from his personal standpoint, “I am interested in people getting around the Caribbean” but noted that he had no authority to comment on how REDjet could affect the state-owned Caribbean Airlines.
Ninety passengers were on the return flight and were greeted by dancers and tuk music when they entered the GAIA last night.