CEO of REDjet, Ian Burns, made the point during his address at the recent Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s State of the Industry Conference, held in St. Maarten.
Speaking on the topic, “Overcoming the Hurdles: Making Intra-Caribbean Travel Work”, Burns maintained that REDjet was created by consumers for consumers so everyone can fly.
In response to concerns about movement across the region, the point was made that governments across the region had a major role to play.
“Governments are the biggest hurdle and have to date failed to deliver the necessary changes to deliver what the region desperately needs. An Open Skies air transport agreement is a particular sort of bilateral or multi-lateral Air Transport Agreement. It sets liberal ground rules for international aviation markets and to minimise government intervention. Provisions apply to passenger, all-cargo and combination air transportation and encompass both scheduled and charter services. Key provisions include: Free Market Competition: No restrictions on international route rights; number of designated airlines; capacity; frequencies; and types of aircraft. Pricing Determined by Market Forces: Fair and Equal Opportunity to Compete: Co-operative Marketing Arrangements, Provisions for Dispute Settlement and Consultation, Liberal Charter Arrangements Safety and Security, and Optional 7th Freedom All-Cargo Rights.
The REDjet top executive made it clear that the Open Skies Agreement was critical to regional travel. “For REDjet, Open Skies mean connecting families and friends, growing businesses of any size, growing economies, facilitating regional sport competitions and so much more. Open Skies for REDjet also means the reaction of competitors will also ensure that we, through pioneers, remain committed to and focused on the driving force behind REDjet, the consumer.”
He maintained that the company was guided by the philosophy of making travel affordable and hassle-free. “This makes REDjet unique within the region as the only carrier with this objective. We have created a compelling consumer proposition that is revolutionising travel in the Caribbean. We offer real freedom, real choice and unlimited opportunities for citizens and businesses that just have not existed in the region until now.”
This, he added, was leading the effort to make the customer central focus of the exercise and catering to their needs. “Intra-Caribbean travel in the past was almost like a passenger asking for a favour. There was no customer service, the fares were exorbitant and the routing was a nightmare. We pride ourselves on being a breath of fresh air in regional travel, and we are expanding to meet the needs of our customers and the demand for our service. We’re in this business and in this region for the long haul, and we will continue to have the best and lowest fares. Before REDjet arrived only four per cent of passengers thought air travel was good value. Now 98.5 per cent of REDjet’s passengers are satisfied with our value proposition.”
Burns maintained that REDjet had succeeded in providing for positive change within the market. “We promised we would reduce the cost of travel in the region by up to 60 per cent and we have more than delivered. CAL has slashed their fares on the two routes we compete with them and LIAT have also dramatically reduced their fares on the one route we compete with them. That route, according to BTA, grew by 83 per cent in July and LIAT had added additional capacity so they must be doing well also. Unfortunately for consumers, fares on the other routes are still far too expensive, but the good news is REDjet is rolling out throughout the region with two new routes launched today, another on Monday and St. Maarten and St. Lucia to follow shortly.” (DB)