Thursday, January 26, 2012

REDjet denies future in jeopardy

(Barbados Nation) Chief Executive Officer of REDjet Ian Burns has denied that its future was in jeopardy and it needed an $8 million injection to keep operating.

He was reacting Tuesday to statements attributed to the low-cost carrier’s Barbadian shareholder Ralph “Bizzy” Williams in the Saturday Sun last November and a more recent report about cancellation of flights.

“I can assure you there is no issue between the investors,” he said.

“Bizzy Wiliams made his comments in November and the article tried to link us rescheduling flights and Bizzy Williams’ comments as showing REDjet was in financial difficulty. No, that is not the situation.”

Williams was reported to have said that $8 million invested in REDjet for operating expenses in the initial months of the business had to be used otherwise and suggested the airline was in need of an injection of funds to fulfill its investors’ mandate to provide affordable transport for Caribbean people.

But Burns suggested Williams’ comments may have been made out of frustration, as he acknowledged the airline had faced continuous obstacles.

“In terms of the issue as to REDjet and as to where it is today, REDjet has clearly demonstrated that we have made the investment and that we have moved beyond the comments of Mr Williams,” Burns stated.

He said since Williams’ statement, REDjet had brought in its third aircraft, had invested in upgrading in its maintenance facilities, taken on another batch of pilots (eight captains and first officers) and invested in the upgrade of the call centre by employing another ten people.

“We have invested in the infrastructural development of REDjet as it looks to expand the business for 2012, and we are also looking to commence services to Central America,” he added, pointing out there was an air services agreement between Panama and Barbados which he thought would help to facilitate the launch of a Barbados-Panama REDjet route “in the summertime”.

Burns flatly dismissed the media report which said the airline had been forced to cancel several flights.

“The real story behind that is that we have done some rescheduling of our flights for a couple of reasons. One reason is that in our schedule, we will be announcing within the next week or two, new routes and so we have had to make space within our existing schedules in order to accommodate those routes.

“Secondly, we are an airline that is consumer-based and consumer-driven and some of the flights that we have put on, the timing of those flights has not suited people.”

He maintained the amount of flights cancelled in the rearrangement was “a very small number in our schedule”.

REDjet operates seven routes in six Caribbean countries and Burns gave the assurance the airline was “here for the long haul in terms of being a significant partner in the aviation industry within the Caribbean”.

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