JA/Trini “Red Eye” for REDjet

From a humble Caribbean citizen’s point of view, it appears that the diplomatic relations between Jamaica and Barbados have suffered a few damaging blows this year. From the alleged “finger-raping” of a Jamaican national at the Grantly Adams International Airport in March of 2011, to the supposed cancellations and delays of Caribbean Airlines flights in Barbados, it certainly seems as though these two CARICOM siblings just can’t get along these days. Though not as aggressive, Barbados and Trinidad have also been through a few quarrels, such as the common fight over rights to Flying Fish hauls, to the treatment of nationals at either airport. And let us not forget the statements made by Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar this year in relation to Trinidad’s aid to disaster-stricken Caribbean countries that resulted in threats of boycotting Trinidadian products in Jamaica.  However, the latest quarrel involving all three of the largest former british Territories is nothing short of childish and insensitive to the economic well-being of their citizens.

March 25th Observer Cartoon

Though I’m still surprised that a good number of persons I talk to are unaware of this, I will assume that most people do know about the new Barbadian-based airline, REDjet, which was set to begin flights to Jamaica, the Eastern Caribbean and beyond in May of this year.  The Airline’s approach created quite a positive stir among Caribbean people because of its unprecedented initial fare offerings of as low as US$9.99. Naturally, the Jamaica-Trinidad owned Caribbean Airlines, which, as of its take-over of Air Jamaica, holds the monopoly on inter-regional travel, became quite nervous at this impending competition.  Also, within the Eastern Caribbean the monopoly is held by LIAT, which is owned jointly by 11 Eastern Caribbean territories. So it’s clear that REDjet kicked over a bee hive when they dared to  offer Caribbean citizens the unreasonable luxury of visiting their neighbours at a less than pocket-breaking rate – like it was ten years ago.

Now, in a shameless display, both governments seem to be doing all they can to stop REDjet from offering its service to either island; doing everything from denying licencing permissions to delaying the decision-making talks in their local parliaments.  And now, REDjet is now only able to fly to Guyana, with its competitive airfare of as low as $US9.99 and baggage allowance of as low as $US10.00.

Cartoon printed in the Sunday Observer, June 19th, 2011.

Unless I have grossly misunderstood what CARICOM’s principles stood for, and I have severely misinterpreted the purpose of the Caribbean Single Market (CSM) free movement of people agreements, I rather think the actions of these governments to deliberately stifle the success of REDjet is totally unacceptable and warrants an intervention from the regional governing bodies that claim to be interested in the integration of our people.

Then again, Jamaica is the last country I would expect to seek to uphold the tenets of the CARICOM or CSM. It has, after all, arguably been the least supportive of most of the integration measures being proposed, such as the CCJ. In addition, many of the activities sanctioned by the Jamaican Government are a direct slap in the face of CARICOM. One example is the parliament’s agreement in 2010 that a JA$10,000 fee should be paid by all international students (CARICOM National or not) to renew their stay in Jamaica to complete their studies. Furthermore, even UWI’s decisions to build a new Faculty of Law on the Mona Campus, thus eliminating the necessity to travel to Barbados for the degree’s completion, is another bold disregard for the principles of an integrated Caribbean.

Where it concerns REDjet’s services to Jamaica, the EC and beyond, I find that the Jamaican and Trinidadian governments are being terribly unfair to their citizens and are stifling potential tourist activity within their own territories. You see, REDjet’s service is clearly designed for more casual inter-island travel. Its cheap fares and smaller baggage allowance are tailored to satisfy the Europoean tourist who comes to Barbados for two weeks and wants to hop over to Jamaica and Trinidad for a day or two, just to see the sites. It’s also tailored for the UWI, Mona student who’d like to run down to Trinidad for Carnival and make it back in time for his mid-terms. REDjet is offering the perfect opportunity for collective tourism profits for all islands involved as well as a strengthening of the relationships among Caribbean territories. Another potential benefit of REDjet’s service is the competition it will offer to monopoly-holders like LIAT and Caribbean Airlines/Air Jamaica. I remember about 10 years ago it was nothing at all for my mom, brother and I to hop a Dash  8 over to St.Marten for a weekend, do a bunch of shopping, visit our relatives and come back in time for school on Monday, all for under US$300. Now, you’re lucky if that gets you a seat on the plane. I am well aware of the effect of inflation but it is still insane that I paid $US800 for a return trip from Jamaica to St. Kitts last year (CAL from KGN-ANU then LIAT from ANU-SKB), when US$250 can get me a return from KGN-MIA.

A recent Facebook post by REDjet in relation to the delays by the two Caribbean Governments

Would it really be so bad if these two governments suspended their greed this once and actually did something that benefits their citizens? This same greed is stopping the flow of great potential economic returns for tourism and trade and is a perfect example of how politics continues to stem the development of the Caribbean region. As someone once said to me, “We’re not third world by accident“.


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  2. the storm will eventually blow over once jamaica run out of huff and puff, trinidad government int gonna say nothing but will continue pulling the puppet strings and i predict barbados will go on saying nothing about this redjet debate, cuz either way it not hurting our economy… if redjet was set up in any other country bruce and kamala wud never have reason to cuss about or silently evade(respectively) the matter… gone do as the bajans do and keep ma mouth shut pon anything further to do with the matter.

  3. lol I actually totally knew that ya know… really meant to say “Barbadian-based”… thought I edited it already in fact. Thanks for heads-up! What are your other thoughts?

  4. redjet is not barbadian owned… its based in barbados but not owned by barbados

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