REDJET, the low-cost air carrier based in Barbados and founded by Ian and Robbie Burns, is to begin flights to Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana next month.
Speaking with Caribbean Business Report from the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston, on Tuesday, chairman of REDjet Ian Burns said: “We are proud to announce our flights will commence on the 8th of May to Trinidad. Then we launch in Guyana on the 10th and the following day we begin our flights to Kingston, Jamaica. We then launch from Kingston Jamaica to Trinidad on the 18th of May. They will be non-stop direct services with an average flight time of two hours, fifty minutes.
Ian Burns president of REDjet
“This now means that the two biggest Englishspeaking Caribbean countries will now be connected on a direct basis. So from a business, leisure and carnival perspective there will be a link whereby REDjet will make air travel between the two countries easier and more affordable.”
Burns went on to say that on the commercial side, things have being going well, but the airline has encountered a few stumbling blocks on the regulatory side. Each country has it’s own process and each country is independent, so one has to achieve A before one goes on to B. Navigating its way through the permits, approvals and bureaucracy has been timeconsuming and has taken longer than REDjet’s management team would have liked, nevertheless they seem to be making progress.
The REDjet model
REDjet now has two aircraft, namely 149-seater MD-82s, and a further two on order. The new Caribbean airline now has eighty-two staff members ranging fourteen different nationalities.
Many have experience with carriers such as American Airlines, SAS and Air Jamaica.
“What we are bringing is a revolution in terms of low airfares. The region has always suffered from high fares that makes travelling prohibitive.
It always has been a bundled style product where passengers have to pay for services whether they want them or not. We are bringing a new attitude whereby you pay for the services and products you use. You want a snack, you pay for it, you want a soft drink, you pay for it. You choose what you want on the flight and pay for it.
“Fare prices start at US$9.99 plus taxes which is approximately 60 per cent cheaper than current prevailing prices.
That’s a significant saving and means that now everyone can fly. We make that statement because we believe everyone should have the right and means to fly. Right now only 10 per cent of the people of the Caribbean fly, and in terms of the world that is a very low statistic. All the evidence points to airfares in the region going up and the amount of people travelling has gone down. Now those two facts are irrefutable and that has been the case for the last five years.
We have listened to the consumers and tried to provide what they want which is low fares,” declared REDjets’s chairman.
The Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) is in danger of being an abject failure with no defined air travel and entry policy; trade issues have yet to be reconciled; nationalistic sentiments seem to override everything and currency issues have yet to be decided upon.
REDjet may well provide the touchstone to rally the region, making its people familiar with the disparate islands and its cultures and ways of doing business. Also its airfare policy will in any event force other airlines in the region to become more competitive.
Fifteen per cent of all seats are at US$9.99 plus taxes. This equates to a round trip of US$115 to Barbados from Jamaica and US$105 round trip to Trinidad.
That’s the very basic fare package. It then goes up to US$29.29 and as demand grows it goes up in US$10 increments. This spells a 60 per cent reduction in air fares in the region. REDjet’s fare structure means that people will have to book their flights as quickly as possible because to delay doing so will then become a more costly proposition.
Burns explains:“ I would expect that on a Friday night there will be less US$9.99 flights than on a Tuesday. We are looking for a consistent load factor across all our flights. It is very important that consumers know how our model works and this also pertains to baggage so they can work out how much the fare is going to cost.
“You can book one way with us which will set you back about US$60 and the other way with another carrier, it’s up to you. You don’t have to buy a return ticket. There are no minimum stays or conditionalities attached.”
As far as baggage is concerned you can bring on two bags free of charge. This will serve as cabin baggage allowance. The bags can have a combined weight of 20kg (two bags) which is 43 per cent above any other airline. There are three store-away bag options, 15kg, 22.5 kg and 30kg. They range from US$10, US$17.50 and US$25.
For the second bag it ranges from US$30, US$40 and US$60. This still works out inordinately cheaper than the other airlines. The planes are all economy class and the seats are 33 inches across, which is good news for larger persons. The planes will have a Sky Bar and Café where food and beverages can be purchased.
REDjet has turned to primarily online bookings and has effectively used social media to advertise and market the airline.
It opened a Facebook account in November of last year which until the last two weeks had 3,000 fans. Over the last fourteen days REDjet has attracted a further 13,000 fans.