Barbados-based budget airline REDjet warns local government of possible headquarter relocation
Amidst claims of foot dragging on the part of the Barbadian government, REDjet may be shifting their base away from Barbados. REDjet began operating in Q2 2011 in a bid to provide passengers with low cost flights taking them to cheaper Barbados holidays.
According to co-founder and Business Development Director, Robbie Burns, REDJet’s threat of moving its main operative base from Barbados) is the result of the unusual delays they have experienced in the approval of new routes by the Barbados Air Transport Licensing Authority.
The approval delays have shaken investor confidence and in turn have put pressure on the start-up airline’s finances. “While, these delays are subject to normal commercial risks that airlines face or should face, it is unusual that an airline with this status should face these challenges.”
Currently, the airline, which began offering Barbados flights in May 2011, is said to have six routes from Barbados due for approval by the local government, including flights to St Lucia, Grenada, St Kitts, Antigua and St Maarten.
Despite the buzz REDJet has created among consumers in the region by putting exotic Barbados holidays, among other top Caribbean destinations, within the reach of the traveller on a budget; the path has not been smooth for the airline. Since it was founded in 2010, REDJet has encountered various political obstacles in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and now in Barbados “the real challenges have been political. The region has state-owned airlines and despite excessive high fares, these airlines still require heavy financial subsidies and are a significant burden on tax payers in the region. REDjet has suffered delays because of protectionism” Mr Burns stated back in August 2011 during an interview. The threat REDJet poses to state-owned airlines like Trinidad and Tobago’s Caribbean Airlines is very real, with its Low Fare Airline (LFA) business model being the first of its kind in the region. REDJet’s website claims that, if passengers book in advance, flights to Barbados can run as cheap as $9.99 US dollars.
Image by: judyh1226, on Flickr
Although Barbados holidays have always been a top choice for travellers in the Caribbean, REDJet is still felt to be in a position to make a valuable contribution to the island’s tourism industry. With budget Caribbean flights on offer the airline has paved the way for holidaymakers to splurge on any one of the many luxurious Barbados hotels. However, REDJet expressed frustration that the level of investment they have made is yet to be met by the government in Barbados, “If things continue like this over six months REDjet will not have its base in Barbados. We are not prepared to go any further investing in our operations there until the other half of the investment deal is met…We have delivered our half, we have delivered our jobs, we have delivered our investment, we have delivered our service and we have shown we can fly the routes properly and deliver a reliable safe service” Mr Burns concluded.
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