The low fares airline REDjet commenced commercial operations in the Caribbean yesterday, making its maiden flight to Guyana from Barbados and promising to stick around “for years to come.”
The airline is initially servicing the Guyana-Barbados route four times a week, and hopes to move to a daily schedule very soon. This will largely depend on additional routes the airline is hoping to fly to soon, including Trinidad.
The airline is awaiting full permission to fly to Port-of-Spain.
Yesterday, Minister of Tourism Manniram Prashad issued a stinging rebuke of the Trinidad government, saying he hoped “irritants” preventing the granting of permission to fly there would be sorted out soon. He called for cooperation that reflects the true spirit of regional integration.
The first flight to Guyana landed with 149 passengers.
Chairman of REDjet, Ian Burns, said the goal of the airline is to ensure that “everyone” can fly.
He said that the airline, with 89 employees from 17 different countries, is looking to put the spirit of adventure into its operations, putting an end to high fares for travelling in the Caribbean.
Minister Prashad said that when word of REDjet first came out, many thought it was a scam, but the government was convinced very early that the airline was serious about what it was attempting to do. He opined that Guyana will see an increase in visitors with the advent of REDjet.
Prashad said that the emergence of REDjet has seen fares on airlines that cost over US$400 to Trinidad being slashed by US$200, while another airline is looking to upgrade its fleet.
He gave assurances that the Guyana government will do all that it can to support REDjet.
The airline has two MD-82 jet aircraft which are powered by two JT8D-217A engines. The airline intends to open across the region as it develops destinations across the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States. REDjet has hired 17 pilots to command the aircraft.
The MD-82 aircraft the airline has acquired can carry 172 seats. However to lower the weight, operational costs and crew required, the REDjet MD-82s are fitted with 149 seats in an-all economy configuration giving an average seat pitch of a comfortable 33 inches of legroom.
Regarding fares, 15 per cent of the seats will be for US$9.99 with taxes, so booking early would be necessary to get the lowest fare. Once 15% of the seats are bought up, prices will go up incrementally by US$10.
The average fare across routes is estimated at US$59 and could move to over US$99 if one books in the last week or two, or if demand is strong and the lowest fares are sold out.
The cost is just for the seat. Since the airline will offer an opt-in service, commuters will pay for what they choose (including baggage and meals) and that will determine the final price of the ticket.
Overall, the airline estimates it will bring down the cost of airfare to travel by as much as 60 percent.
REDjet will allow passengers one carry-on bag and a handbag or laptop case, both weighing up to 10 kilograms each as long as they fit in standard baggage sizers. If you want to check a bag, the fee starts at $10 for the first bag and between US$30 and US$60 for the second bag.
Passengers would be able to, if they wish, purchase optional extras to tailor their flight to their own requirements.
Passengers would be able to book Travel Insurance, SMS ticket confirmation, food and drinks in-flight on the Sky Café and Bar, and Priority Boarding for those who want to skip queues and select their seat first on board.
The company is privately owned and incorporated in St Lucia. Its corporate offices are situated in the Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados.
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