Jamaica to decide on REDjet soon; T & T uncertain

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Civil aviation authorities in Jamaica say they’re close to making a decision on whether low-cost carrier REDjet can start flights there, while uncertainty remains about when the airline will get permission to fly to Trinidad and Tobago.

Director-General of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Derby, says that body will make a decision this week.

“They had made an application years ago but they did not qualify at the time and so they had withdrawn the application,” said Derby. They made the application again in April when they became a designated carrier of Barbados and we have done the process and the submission has been made to the Board of Directors to decide.”

REDjet, formerly Airone, wanted to base its operations in Jamaica in 2007, but after being denied permission to set up, shifted its hub to Barbados.

The status of the airline’s operations in Trinidad and Tobago, which had been scheduled to start on May 8, remains uncertain.

Works and Transport Minister Austin ‘Jack’ Warner said yesterday that REDjet has to get over some hurdles before permission is granted.

He met with the company’s executives and the Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) Board at his office last week to discuss the holdup.

Earlier last week, the ATLA said REDjet’s application had not been submitted for the Board to review. But Chairman and CEO Ian Burns responded that his company had submitted it via email, the day after the May 9 appointment of the new board.

Director-General of Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority (TTCAA), Ramesh Lutchmedial, has since explained that his agency has not forwarded the relevant documents to the ATLA – which has to give REDjet its final license – because new information had surfaced that necessitated a review of the airline’s certification.

Last week, Warner told a post-Cabinet briefing that REDjet said it needed more time to resolve five of the 18 concerns initially identified by the TTCAA.

While those issues are being ironed out, the Works and Transport Minister said, REDjet would have to wait.

REDjet had accused Trinidad of blocking its entry into the market to protect its national carrier, Caribbean Airlines, which is in the process of finalizing its merger with Air Jamaica.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Finance Minister Winston Dookeran, speaking at the press briefing with Warner, said there is one outstanding matter in the shareholder agreement between Caribbean Airlines and Air Jamaica: “That is confirmation that the air routes that will be part of the agreement will be extended beyond February 2012 and at this point in time the legal people are trying to get the compliance to that particular measure.”

Dookeran said he expected the deal to be completed soon, but did not give any date.

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