Jamaica ‘will not be bullied’ – Golding

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Prime Minister Bruce Golding has suggested a link between the alleged holding up of a Caribbean Airlines plane in Barbados and the delay in granting the Barbados-based REDjet permission to fly to Kingston.

Golding also issued a message to those trying to press Jamaican authorities to grant the approval.

“That is not the way any government will be able to get any government that I lead to respond,” he said last Saturday, at a Jamaica Labour Party meeting, a day after being informed that “a Caribbean Airlines plane was harassed in Barbados” last week.

“The suspicion is that it is an aggressive action and I hope it is not, because that is not the way we in CARICOM must resolve our issues,” Golding said.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Caribbean Airlines, in which the Jamaica government has a 16 per cent share following the recent merger with Air Jamaica, is in direct competition with low-cost carrier REDjet. Neither the twin-island republic nor Kingston has given the green light for services to those countries to begin, despite numerous promises that a decision would be made “soon”.

In the case of Jamaica, the authorities said they were waiting to complete the deal with Caribbean Airlines first. That was finalized two weeks ago.

Golding said since the finalization of the merger, there had been increased pressure to allow REDjet to fly into Kingston.

However, he insisted that Jamaica would not be bullied into making any decision.

“I’m not unaccustomed to being faced down by foreign governments, but I have a face too and Jamaica’s interest must always be harmonized with external partners, but must never be sacrificed.

“We are not saying approval will not be granted, but in the spirit of the collaboration that saw the closure of the deal with Caribbean Airline that decision has to await the appropriate consultation,” said Golding.

The Jamaican leader said he planned to meet with his Barbadian and Trinidadian counterparts on the issue.

REDjet, which began flying last month, currently only has approval to fly between Barbados and Guyana.

The airline offers base fares as low as U$9.99 one way – excluding government taxes and baggage – and last week launched a campaign in which it will offer 1,000 additional seats per day at that price, for every day it is delayed permission to fly in the other two markets.

The company says it sees the “ongoing political delays in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica as proof that the region needs competition and low fares”.

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