Saturday, April 14, 2012

Government minister blanks REDjet request for talks

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, April 13, CMC – Transport Minister Devant Maharaj has blanked a request by officials from the Barbados-based low REDjet for a meeting weeks after the airline suspended its services to various regional destinations.

A statement from the Ministry of Transport said that Maharaj “has not agreed to meet with the officials at REDjet as per their request until they have secured the AOC (Air Operators Certificate) from the Barbados Government”.

It said Redjet had written to the Director General of the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority (TTCAA) Ramesh Lutchmedial indicating that “the Airline’s Shareholders were obliged to suspend operations as continued funding of the current business plan was contingent on the activation of agreement that was concluded between the Shareholders of REDjet and the Government of Barbados in January this year”.

The statement further quoted REDjet as indicating that in the interim it was “requesting dialogue with the TTCAA in the interim”.

“However, the TTCAA while noting the commitment on achieving the restoration of its AOC with the Barbados Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) and out of respect for its regional counterparts will not engage in any premature discussions with REDjet until the AOC has been reinstated by the BCAA and have reapplied for a Trinidad and Tobago License,” the statement said.

Last month, the TTCAA said it had revoked the licence of REDjet effective March 30.

TTCAA said it had written to the airline’s chairman and chief executive officer Ian Burns informing him “that the authority was left with no option but to revoke the licence, since the Barbados Civil Aviation Department (BCAD) by letter dated 20th March, 2012 had advised REDjet that they were suspending the Air Operators Certificate”.

The TTCAA said it had also written to REDjet on the March 28, requesting the airline to respond within 14days as to “why the provisional licences issued to REDjet should not be revoked or cancelled”. TTCAA also questioned whether REDjet had the capacity and ability to provide a continuous and reliable service, the TTCA said in its letter.

However, subsequent to that letter and before REDjet’s deadline for response, the TTCAA received a copy of the letter dated March 20, 2012 by the BCAD, and, therefore, had to revoke REDjet’s licence with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, employees at the financially-troubled airline have been told they will receive their salaries next week after more than two weeks of waiting.

But the Barbados-based WEEKEND NATION newspaper reported Friday that passengers affected by the suspension of REDjet flights announced on March 16 are still awaiting their refunds.

Frustrated employees, who were paid up to February 25, are quoted as saying they had been informed that payment for February 26 to March 16 would be ready next Tuesday.

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