Thursday, April 19, 2012

REDjet seeking government assistance

By Anika E Kentish - Thursday, April 19th, 2012.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana  – The Donald Ramotar government is not yet ready to make any commitments regarding grounded carrier REDjet. The airline, which ran into financial hardship, last month suspended its operations with the hope of finding the necessary funds to get its planes back in the air.

In an effort to recapitalize, REDjet principles have approached, among others, the Guyana government for financial assistance. But while Ramotar and his cabinet do not dispute that fact, they remain tight-lipped on the specifics of the proposal put forward by the low-fare carrier.

“I’d be frank to say that REDjet officials, they came for a meeting. They made a presentation to the government of Guyana. That presentation is now on the desk of the desk of the president and it will be brought to cabinet,” Acting Tourism Minister Irfann Ali said.

He explained the airline presented an assessment of the carrier’s impact since entering the market and a financial viability plan for the cabinet to be considered.

“We haven’t come to any conclusion on that,” Ramotar told media attending a tourism conference. “I think it might be more difficult to do that at this point…but the important thing is to look.”

Ramotar and his cabinet would not disclose the amount the troubled carrier is seeking, but indicated that they are still considering their options.

“We haven’t concluded, we haven’t made decisions in that direction but we haven’t ruled anything out as yet either. We want to study it very carefully. My information is that while REDjet was flying, there was a fairly sizable increase in arrivals in Guyana so it’s something that we have to study,” Ramotar said.

Guyana gained considerable benefits from the additional airlift REDjet provided. At the time of suspension, the airline had direct flights from Cheddi Jagan International Airport to Barbados and Antigua.

The acting tourism minister said the absence of the airline created a void, especially with its link to Barbados. He added that a regional forum was necessary to discuss the state of regional travel.

REDjet Chief Executive Officer Ian Burns has publically suggested that governments give serious consideration to subsidizing the carrier.

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