Redjet row heightens
Prime Minister Bruce Golding has issued a stern warning to interests in Barbados that Jamaica will not be bullied into allowing Redjet airline to fly into the country.
According to Golding, ever since the conclusion of the Air Jamaica-Caribbean Airlines Limited deal, pressure has been applied to allow the Barbados-designated low-fare carrier to start operations in Jamaica.
Apparently, the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back was a report Golding received when he returned to the island on Friday night.
"I am disturbed at a report I got when I returned to the island last night that a Caribbean Airlines plane was harassed in Barbados. Because Redjet is registered as a Barbadian company - the ownership is not necessarily consistent with that - it has been declared by the Barbadian government to be its national carrier," Golding said.
He added: "What I'm told took place two days ago when a Caribbean Airlines plane was held up, I don't want to use the word detained, in Barbados and the suspicion is that it is an aggressive action, and I hope it is not, because that is not the way we in Caricom should resolve our issues."
Golding was adamant that Jamaica's interests must harmonise with those of its existing partners, but never sacrificed on the altar of an external partnership.
"Let me put it firmly: That is not the way any government will be able to get any government that I lead to respond."
He continued: "I'm not unaccustomed to being faced down by foreign governments, but I have a face, too."
Late last month, The Gleaner reported that the Barbados-designated airline Redjet said it was forced to stop accepting bookings on flights to Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica because of regulatory delays in both countries.
Redjet, the Caribbean's first low-fare carrier was scheduled to commence direct jet service between Jamaica's Norman Manley International Airport and Grantley Adams, Bridgetown, Barbados, as well as Trinidad in early May. However, it has been 'grounded' by the two countries since announcing its flight plans.
In response to the claims made by the airline, the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority said there was nothing unusual in the processing of the application for permission to fly into the country by the low-cost carrier.
Golding pointed out that Redjet had been attempting to fly to Jamaica from the days of Air Jamaica, but the request was not approved because he "was not prepared at that time to allow Air Jamaica planes to start dropping out of the sky".
The prime minister said he was not saying that the Redjet application would not be approved, but it would have to be allowed with the CAL deal in mind. Golding said he would be talking with both the prime ministers of Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago by tomorrow to iron out the matter.