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The Prime Ministers of Barbados and Trinidad fight over REDjet


Prime Minister Stuart has accused Trinidad and Tobago of

executing a smear campaign against the airline.

Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and his Trinidad and Tobago counterpart appear to be on a collision course over the twin-island republic’s failure to grant low-budget carrier REDjet permission to fly there, with the Barbadian leader warning that two can play that game.

While Trinidad and Tobago has claimed there are safety concerns about the Barbados-based carrier, Prime Minister Stuart has accused its CARICOM neighbour of second guessing the certification by his country, and launching a smear campaign against the airline.

He threw down the gauntlet in St. Kitts over the weekend as CARICOM Heads of Government met for their 32nd regular meeting.

“We in Barbados certified REDjet in Barbados as safe. We are being second-guessed on that. Other people certify their aircraft and we don’t second-guess them,” he told reporters.

“I made that point at the meeting but if this is the way these issues are going to be handled, I only want to know the rules. I just want to know how people are playing the game; I can play the game as well as they can play it.”

REDjet currently only has approval to operate flights between Barbados and Guyana. Both Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, which own one of REDjet’s competitors Caribbean Airlines (CAL), have not yet given it the green light, citing concerns about safety of the aircraft that need to be addressed.

But Prime Minister Stuart has accused Trinidad and Tobago of executing a smear campaign against the airline.

He told reporters that at a meeting last month in Port of Spain, involving transport ministers of the three countries involved in the matter, Barbados’ Minister of International Transport George Hutson was shown photographs as purported evidence of the safety problems. However, Stuart said, Hutson’s request for the photographs to be certified was denied.

“And the next thing we knew that they were on the Internet and the smear campaign against REDjet continued,” Stuart said, referring to photographs that were being circulated claiming to show corrosion on the landing gear of a REDjet plane.

But Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is insisting that safety is paramount and those issues need to be dealt with before Trinidad and Tobago can go forward with the matter.

However, she also suggested that the holdup also had to do with protecting Trinidad and Tobago’s national airline, CAL, as she expressed concern about REDjet’s low fares.

The airline offers a US$9.99 base fare, with taxes and baggage not included. It is the region’s first low-budget carrier and follows a “no frills” model similar to JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airways, Spirit Airlines and West Jet in North America, and Ryanair in Europe. 

While it is awaiting permission from Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, management of the airline has been in talks with governments of other potential destinations. They recently had preliminary discussions with representatives of the Grenada Airlift Committee as a first step to making an official application for a license to service the route.

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Comment by Patricia on July 7, 2011 at 10:27pm
Trini, be fair. Let Redjet get a play. We trinis would benefit from this airline through the Caribbean. It too damn expensive to just visit our sister isles with Caribbean Airlines
Comment by kirk crookendale on July 7, 2011 at 1:25pm

How r the first 2 people to comment so hasty to say they support t&t pm about safety when we dont know that that really is the case, if u read the entire article there is a part saying hutson wanted the photos certified and they refused , y? I personally dont know but i think people should get facts b 4 the type.

Comment by chizme on July 6, 2011 at 11:11pm
i've heard safety first and agree with that..T&T claims safety issues but what are these issues?...i have not heard her put forward not even one. T&T is also proposing a sea transport opinion hopeing no one opposes...thats 2 T&t-based modes of transport that seems good but she opposing the one from barbados...and somebody say barbados greedy.....i see sheer eco-political game play of yesteryear where once again the interest of the ppl is clearly ignored. OUR politicians are just cooperate game pieces for "BIG BUSINESS". watch and see how they try to draw us into this scrabbleing in the name of "GETTING PUBLIC OPINION". we will soon be hearing all kind of dirt on T&T as well as on barbados and the fight will escalate meanwhile what about the integration we suppose to be moving towards? if there are genuine safety issues state them clearly for all to know since it concerns all of us and not jus T&T so that barbados will be obliged to address them. protecting your money train and creating a monopoly however beneficial to you is NOT health for the integration process.
Comment by Proudlady on July 6, 2011 at 6:51pm
I have not heard of any instances of unsafe flying conditions upon RedJet. However, I do think that this is all about the money for these two countries. It may have a harsher effect on Jamaica's airline as it is now trying to service more areas through the newly signed deal with CAL(T&T). Either way, CAL has not and most likely will never offer fares this low among the Caribbean islands, so let RedJet fly and just lower CAL's fares as low as possible and let the service of CAL speak for itself. You may find that some people will be willing to pay extra money for the great service offered by CAL(of course this now includes Jamaica).
Comment by Adarna De Freitas on July 6, 2011 at 5:56pm
You can make this kind of s*** up. So unprofessional.
Comment by Mervin E Yearwood on July 6, 2011 at 4:05pm

 To my knowledge these aircraft are ex American Airline and have the required certificate of air worthiness,perhaps there can examine A.A. maintenance log.  No Avionic mechanic is going to certify an aircraft airworthy and sing off on it if it's unsafe .This is a case of brinkmanship.the P.M of T& T AND JA.has just signature a deal for they have a desire to bash the competition.I hope that they can resolved this matter amicably.

  The P.M. of T&T just announced that she has a company that is interested in a ferry service between BIM and T&T for U.S.D $15.00 I do hope this happen a Caribbean cruse for $15.00 bring it on .

Comment by evolution on July 6, 2011 at 1:40pm

All the prime minister has to do is stop Caribbean airlines and air Jamaica…….. from landing in Barbados. They would see how much billions of dollars they stand to lose on that front because Barbados is a hub for all major airlines. This is not the first time that they try to screw us as far as aviation is concerned but it will be the last.

Comment by Str8talk4real on July 6, 2011 at 12:49pm
I support Trinidad Prime Minister, she is concerned about safety of the people... Barbados Prime Minister is displaying that political greed... I can imagine what he has to gain personally....  I have no problem with this competition that is well needed in the Caribbean, with a few airlines operating they really do take advantage of people... Barbados fix the plane and lets get it going!
Comment by Lambert Gibson on July 6, 2011 at 12:29pm
Safty first! Lives R to Important to play with.

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