REDjet debacle shows CARICOM is a sham

“What has been dished out to RedJet is shameful. I bow my head in that shame. I truly now know that CARICOM is but a sham and obviously just a ploy for Heads of our nations to get together and feed their egos.”

by Rosemary Parkinson

The reception that RedJet has received from our so-called- unified-by-CARICOM governments has been to say the least based on protectionism for LIAT and Caribbean Airlines. RedJet were doomed to fail if Caricom Heads did not put the necessary openings in place. The Barbados government was also a tad unhurried in getting RedJet the necessary support and I am not talking investment. There was no need at the time for this – those behind RedJet saw a niche, did their homework and were well-prepared to give the people a low-cost airline. This is where I smell a rat because these businessmen would not have gone through with their plans had they not been given certain assurances…by certain people…or at least that is my belief. I could be wrong, this could be an assumption.

We the people, however, embraced RedJet, welcoming this opportunity for the Caribbean region to be more integrated. Vendors could now move back and forth and make a living. Artistes from all areas of the creative arts had an opportunity to truly know our neighbours and earn extra dollars. Families and friends could now travel easily. Regional tourism had been finally given the push it required. Regional business at all levels could now afford visits to their partners rather than just telephone meetings. Most importantly RedJet gave an opportunity for food and goods to be moved between the islands – a huge plus for us the people as we sought to reduce our import bills from the north.

RedJet was people friendly and had one and only one vision…to give the people (I said the people) of the Caribbean an airline that cared cost-wise. Naturally making ends meet and profit would have also been a priority. But digging out the eyes of their own people was not.

This model of air travel is not new. It has worked for years quite happily in Europe. The Caribbean islands could fit directly into this model. It was a win-win situation. And true enough while RedJet was in the air, after a few hiccups, they gave us the best deal. Every one I know had thoroughly enjoyed their flights and the best part was it did not kill the pocket, leaving monies also for spending at their destination. I even have a ticket to Jamaica with an expiration date of one year from purchase. Was so looking forward to using it.

What has been dished out to RedJet is shameful. I bow my head in that shame. I truly now know that CARICOM is but a sham and obviously just a ploy for Heads of our nations to get together and feed their egos. Why do we have to watch them spend our tax money to come up with very little…a forest of paperwork filled with faces and signatures documented for posterity by the press…of which not much seems to truly have made a difference either in our integration or in the movements of food and goods between islands…and now this!!

Shame. Shame. And more shame.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared as a comment on the CAPA Centre for Aviation blog REDjet’s woes show unwillingness of Caribbean countries to liberalise


Filed under Aviation, Barbados, CARICOM

12 responses to “REDjet debacle shows CARICOM is a sham

  1. robert ross

    And, yes, R, it had the effect of forcing CA to drop their prices too – which is HOW IT SHOULD BE in a commercial market.

  2. Kinney

    So finally the truth cometh. REDjet is owned by Simpson and Williams via a company known as Warrens Comminications. I guess people will now be able to piece together the connection between REDjet and DIGICEL. I note Simpson and Williams are listed as owning Warrens Communication but the silent partner H. Nichols is made no mention of, why?

    Does Warrens Comminications have a major investment in DIGICEL?

    In politics its called engineering your opponent into a lose-lose situation, in other words guarantee victory from the outset.

    If the DLP bailout REDjet, the electorate will complain its a wasteful spending. If the DLP don’t bailout REDjet, the electorate will complain they will be responsible for a return to higher airfares in the region.

    Brilliant OWEN, good move.

    Curiously does Warrens Communications have any investment in Barbados Today the online newspaper? That paper really seems to favour OWEN.

  3. Longsuffering Bajan Taxpayer!

    Good thing Barbados is richer than Trinidad!

    We can afford to bail out…
    * The Four Seasons mess
    * The CLICO mess
    * The RedJet mess
    * Any other misc. messes that come along
    —— any takers?

    Line up here for your free cash
    after your PRIVATE ENTERPRISE goes bust!

  4. ...................................

    rosemary parkinson is an idealistic airhead

  5. FearPlay

    @ Kinney, what’s your point exactly? Is Simpson not as devoted a Dem as Nichols is a B and Williams a devoted PiP member? Please explain your progression of thought.

  6. boarcatrules

    Anyone who relies on everyone in Government’s words instead of written agreements will fail.

  7. If Red Jet is felled, it means the Ferry service won’t get off the ground either.
    How can these islands progress, with such inchoate politics? Will we ever grow up? Who votes in such politicians at our own detriment. We are all to blame, heaping our own coals, digging our own demise.

  8. runner

    is this a Caricom failure or a Barbados public/ private failure ? Red tape is the norm everywhere, and yes i would agree that there were undue obstacles from some governments but i believe there is more homegrown blame to share around for this debacle . we have some very serious inadequaces that needs to be dealt with and redjet should serve as a reminder that we have a terribly flawed system ranging from a lethargic governemnt ( with a dose of corruption) , a private sector that is really not that competitive , a labour force that is not productive (courtesy of the unions)and attitudes that unbelievably sour, and a media that covers it all up with the flag to pretend that we are something that we are not

  9. Anthony Davis

    Our Minister of Int’l Transport said that the reason REDjet could not land in St. Lucia is because it was too large, and that is the reason why it was not cleared to fly there! I asked the simple question: if Virgin Atlantic an BA can land there, how come REDjet cannot? I am still waitnig for an answer! Either the Minister is inept or he deliberately delayed letting it fly there because of CA and leave island any time(Liat). I think that it was a lot of the latter and a bit of the former, because nobody can tell me that a Minister of International Transport in a Barbados Government does not know that St. Lucia has an International airport, and a smaller one for Liat and such small aircraft! The Barbados Government is to blame for the fiasco! If they can pour money into Four Seasons they can pour some into that airline!

  10. 71

    But Anthony,
    where is all this bailout money coming FROM?
    It’s coming from you and I the taxpayer (the source of all Govern-mental funds,btw)

    Barbados is already stone broke, even before Four Seasons
    even before RedJet -and even before CLICO!

    The island-nation of Barbados is in serious debt…IN THE RED…
    and cannot afford to fix its own roads
    far less bail out private enterprise failures!

  11. Airline Enthusiast

    I’ve read some of the recent articles on this matter and in general I agree with author of this article. I feel that much of the journalism is not focusing on the real questions, like; Why is it habitual policy to bail out Liat which has only made a profit once in all it’s years of flying? Why is it that Liat receives support without question year in, year out without question, without really showing any real effort to rectify its poor financial performance. Liat lost US$46 million last year, who do you think paid for the loss, the tax payer of course! I suspect that loss will be far higher again this year, given the additional competition they experienced. Why is it that despite its vast Government support that it still provides an expensive and unreliable service.

    I’ll tell you why, blatant PROTECTIONISM!!! If the Governments would stop bailing out REDjet’s competitors and simply have the airlines fight it out among themselves then let the public decide with their feet what they want for themselves, rather than have their choices dictated to them through Government interference, surely we would all benefit in the long run. If this were to happen, the outcome would be that Liat, REDjet and CAL would only compete on routes that they could afford to fly. Liat would probably require a PSO (Government support) on routes that are of regional interest but that no airline can profitably deliver, (but this would amount to a much smaller amount that the US$46 million they required last year and would be subject to tender so that they remain competitive). REDjet would be able to provide an affordable and reliable service without any Government support. Surely that would be both in the consumers and taxpayers interest? To have fair competition without subsidy, so that the airline’s had to actually deliver results rather than rely off taxpayer hand out’s to survive which as a policy will deter future investment in the region as potential entrants know that they won’t be treated fairly as I feel REDjet have not been in this situation to date.

    Whilst I acknowledge the point made about the issues with Clico and Four Seasons, surely all issues should be treated independently and a decision on each issue should be based purely on merit and the associated costs and potential benefits of each project for Barbados and the region!

    FYI: Virgin and REDjet fly into Henowarra in St Lucia, their aircraft are too large to fly into Castres in St Lucia.

  12. Victoria Edgley

    I recently persuaded two different soon to be married couples to have their honeymoon in Barbados whilst nipping off to other islands on Redjet for an overnight stay, thereby contributing tourism dollars on several islands as well as keeping their hotel on Barbados in the meantime. Over three weeks they would have shared their tourist dollars over the Carricom area, instead of spending them in an all-inclusive stay over the three weeks in one place. We checked it out and priced the whole trip. Now that idea has taken a nosedive. This plan would have helped the Bbds tourism industry and shared the wealth with other islands, surely good for the whole principle of Caricom whilst stopping the foreign-owned all inclusives from taking all the benefits plus giving a boost to the idea of the Caribbean as a place where you can celebrate all kinds of different environments and cultures.

    It must make sense that if a couple books 3 weeks at an all inclusive in Barbados yet doesn’t reside there for part of the stay, it saves money for the all inclusive as the customers are not using the facilities, eating the food etc. though they are paying for them, whilst they flit about on REDjet to other islands for a night or two of their stay. Instead of spending the whole stay on one island or worse, in one hotel complex, they are having an enhanced experience of the whole Caribbean – or what is on offer at the moment – by REDjet. The only negative point I can see is that staff at the Barbados hub of the experience might miss out on tips; OK a point but at the end of the day, the idea has to be a winner.

    That’s the tourist side of the story, what about the other islands? Increased visits by your usual Barbadian tourist to places like Guyana would create some jobs there which might stop some other islanders from trying to find work in Barbados.

    The islanders’ side of the story is that for once, since the ferry has gone seemingly never to be revived, people might be able to afford to come and go again to visit relatives etc. which is now impossible because of the ridiculous cost of flights available.

    Using the budget airlines in Europe is not a pleasant experience as many have attested but if the aim is to have an inexpensive no-frills flight and let’s face it, in the Caribbean it’s only an hour or two, who cares?

    The only people who benefit by squishing budget airlines in the Caribbean are the vested interests of those who are heavily subsidised by local governments.

    If this can’t work, what can?