My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: REDjet all-clear for Jamaica and Trinidad Routes – Bigger Better Top Gun and CARICOM’s Iron Eagle

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

REDjet all-clear for Jamaica and Trinidad Routes – Bigger Better Top Gun and CARICOM’s Iron Eagle

Variety’s the very spice of life
That gives it all its flavour

Cowper, The Task, II

The good news is too good to keep to myself, as it is, ironically, of significance not only to Jamaica, but to all members of CARICOM (Caribbean Common Market).

REDjet, the budget Air Carrier that was being blocked by Regional CAA (Civil Aviation Authorities) in the Caribbean, has now been given the go-ahead to fly to the People’s Republic of Trinidad and Tobago as stated in the article “REDjet 'Gets OK' To Fly Trinidad Route”, published Monday July 18, 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner and the article “REDjet ‘gets okay’ to fly Trinidad route”, published Sunday, July 17, 2011, The Jamaica Observer.


The Government of Jamaica followed suite and granting permission for the budget carrier to fly into Jamaica as stated in the article “Jamaica gives REDjet the clear”, published Monday, July 18, 2011, The Jamaica Observer. A double dip chocolate Ice Cream Treat for those of us whole are fans of Budget Air travel, as a great travesty has been righted, thanks to the persistence of the  father and son duo of Ian and Robbie Burns, co-owners of REDjet.

For those keeping score, this is less than a month since I first published my article on why REDjet was the “Bigger Better Airline” on Wednesday June 1st 2011 entitled “REDjet vs Caribbean Airlines - Who is The Bigger, Better Airline of them All” to paraphrase
Telecom Provider Digicel’s tagline!

And it does not hurt that this crazy-horse Irish born Venture Capitalist, REDjet Chairman Ian Burns, with no prior experience in running an airline and whose only previous leadership roles has been a past president of Wanderers rugby club in Dublin is nonetheless “close friends” [his words] with Irish telecommunications tycoon Denis O'Brien. Advice from RyanAir, on whose model REDjet is based, is a good feather to have in ones hat too.


The road to this moment was not an easy one, Buju Banton Not an easy Road style!! In my last blog article on REDjet entitled “REDjet vs Caribbean Airlines - Who is The Bigger, Better Airline of them All”, the fight against the CAA of each country was quite well advanced, Top Gun (1986) and Iron Eagle (1986) Style.

People reading my article, play the victory song, Mighty Wings!



To quote REDjet Chairman Ian Burns: “There is obviously some sort of political interference going on. Our point is, let the consumer decide by giving them a choice. We're not going to cost the taxpayers a bit of money if we fail, so why can't the market decide?”.

Good to note that REDjet Chairman Ian Burns is a sporting chap and in the true spirit of competitive haggleing with the Jamaican Authorities, who naturally back CAL, had decided from early on not to take the Jamaican Government to court as stated in the article REDjet: We're not suing Jamaica govt”, published Friday, June 03, 2011, The Jamaica Observer.

REDjet encountered problems with flying in the Caribbean due to being only able to service certain routes and the prolonged delay in being granted approval to fly to Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica as stated in the article “Discount carrier REDjet struggles to fly in Caribbean”, published Friday, June 03, 2011, The Jamaica Observer.



Many saw the US$10 per seat and the ultra-low fares of US$103.42 from Trinidad to Barbados, 66% lower than the least expensive CAL (Caribbean Airlines) flight as an impossibility, even a gimmick. But even the analysts in the Aviation Industry agreed that it was a logical necessity to further Regional Integration.

This as low airfares are the key to easier travel and thus Regional Integration within CARICOM, a point even echoed by analysts such as Managing partner of Miami-based Airline Information, Roger Williams, quote: “The Caribbean certainly needs to be stimulated as far as price; it is one of the highest priced airline markets in the world. However, the Caribbean also needs reliable air service, something that its own airlines have failed to consistently deliver.”

From my point of view, US$9.99 per seat was just the cost of the seat. The other charges added on are what REDjet needs to control to be profitable and viable in the long term. Managing partner of Miami-based Airline Information, Roger Williams, points this out, quote: “The Caribbean certainly needs to be stimulated as far as price; it is one of the highest priced airline markets in the world. However, the Caribbean also needs reliable air service, something that its own airlines have failed to consistently deliver.”

Barbados Tourism Minister Richard Sealy agrees, coming out along with the rest of Barbados in full support of REDjet as stated in the article “Barbados tourism minister backing REDjet”, published Wednesday June 8 2011, The Jamaica Observer


Thus making the accusations of anti-competitive behaviour by REDjet appear sport on, as stated in the article “REDjet accuses regional players of stifling growth”, published Monday, June 13, 2011, The Jamaica Observer with the Government of Jamaica and Trinidad, majority stakeholders in CAL, being made out to be two (2) countries holding the rest of the Caribbean at ransom and threatening the long viability of CARICOM.

Analysts predicting doom and gloom for REDjet based on the experience of running of Antigua-based LIAT fail to factor in the fact that LIAT was Government run and offered too many things in-flight that were not necessary when taking what is essentially a flying bus across the Caribbean. Much as I pointed out in my blog article entitled “REDjet vs Caribbean Airlines - Who is The Bigger, Better Airline of them All”.

Best to make the REDjet Chairman Ian Burns explain that one as it is really a simple mantra that will make REDjet profitable in the long run: cost cutting!

Specifically cost cutting on:

  1. No free food or business class service
  2. Fast turnarounds at airports to save on parking fees
  3. No overnighting by staff
  4. Internet reservations, thus eliminating booking offices.
Not only are the operation of Budget Carrier REDjet are not only more efficient as noted in my blog article entitled “REDjet vs Caribbean Airlines - Who is The Bigger, Better Airline of them All”. REDjet, which is modeled off Ryanair, is very much akin to Telecoms Providers such as Telecom Provider Digicel and Telecom Provider LIME, and are thus also an enabler of Regional integration of CARICOM via the build out of their HSDPA+ Release 7 (High Speed Downlink Packet Access Plus) Network Caribbean wide as stated in my blog article entitled “LIME and American Tourist Data Avalanche - The US$80 Million Dollar CannonBall Run”.

So as the story is now well known, REDjet safety concerns as mentioned in the article “Safety concerns holding up REDjet license”, published Thursday, June 16, 2011, The Jamaica Observer were eventually cleared up, meeting all safety requirements as deemed necessary by the CAA of Jamaica and the Twin Island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Senator Mike Henry, then Minister of Transport and Works went to the Twin Island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to grease the wheels of the process so to speak as stated in the article “Henry in Trinidad to address REDjet issue”, published Thursday, June 16, 2011 BY INGRID BROWN Senior staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer.




This after Barbados, who adopted REDjet as their national carrier, grounded a CAL aircraft on the grounds of routine checks as stated in the article “B’dos PM says C’bean Airlines detention was routine”, published Wednesday, June 22, 2011, The Jamaica Observer. Many, however, suspected it had to do with Barbados-backed REDjet not being granted the right to land in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, the owners of CAL and who stood to lose the most, should REDjet be granted a license to operate as a budget carrier in their airspace in keeping with the Treaty of Chaguaramas and the recent Open Skies Agreement!

REDjet’s application was apparently placed on a fast track by Senator Mike Henry, then Minister of Transport and Works as stated in the article “REDjet's application to operate in Ja, T&T takes flight”, published Friday, June 17, 2011, The Jamaica Observer.

And the rest is history, with the war of words now at an end. It would be quite interesting to see what The Jamaica Gleaner or The Jamaica Observer as well as out local Television Broadcasters Television Jamaica and CVM TV have to say on this issue on their respective morning time programs Smile Jamaica and CVM at Sunrise on Tuesday July 19th 2011AD, The Day After (TV 1983).

Until then, the inevitable is now as I predicted in my last blog article on REDjet entitled “REDjet vs Caribbean Airlines - Who is The Bigger, Better Airline of them All”: CAL will be eventually gobble up by REDjet, the Digicel of Air Travel and will grow from strength to strength, one plane at a time. Especially when REDjet gets the more lucrative US routes, proving that variety [competition] is indeed the spice of life!

JA$10 bets on this happening in the next five (5) years as REDjet rises to become the “Bigger Better” Top Gun (1986) and the ultimate Regional CARICOM integration Iron Eagle (1986), anyone?
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