KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – Prime Minister Bruce Golding has admitted that his administration denied the Barbados-based REDjet permission to fly to Jamaica saying he is not yet prepared to allow the «Lovebird planes to start dropping out of the sky».
«We are not saying approval will not be granted but in the spirit of the collaboration that saw the closure of the deal with Caribbean Airline (CAL) that decision has to await the appropriate consultation» the Prime Minister said.
In an address to a meeting of officials from his ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) over the weekend, Golding also questioned the timing of the recent «hold up» of a Caribbean Airlines (CAL) plane in Barbados at a time when pressure is being brought against Jamaica to allow REDjet to fly into the island.
Golding also said he was disturbed by reports he received recently that the Caribbean Airlines plane was «harassed» in Barbados.
«What I am told took place two days ago when a Caribbean Airlines plane was held up; don’t want to use the word detained, 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 (Caribbean Community) must resolve CARICOM issues,» Golding said .
He said that with the conclusion of the recent arrangements for Caribbean Airlines to acquire Air Jamaica, pressure is now being brought to bear for REDjet to be allowed to fly into Jamaica.
The Jamaica government has a 16 per cent share in the Trinidad-based CAL.
Golding said with the Barbados government regarding REDjet as its national carrier, there is an insistence that it be allowed to fly into Jamaica pursuant to the Open Skies Agreement as well as the provisions of the Treaty of Chagaramus, which governs the regional integration grouping.
«…That is not the way that any government will ever be able to get the government that I lead to respond; I am not unaccustomed to being faced down by a foreign government but I have a face too and Jamaica’s interest must always be harmonised with external partners, but must never be sacrificed,» he said.
Golding said he intends holding discussions with his Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago counterparts on Monday on the issue.
The Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is on an official visit to China.
In April, REDjet announced that it would be flying between Jamaica and Barbados as of May 8.
But the airline has been experiencing administrative problems in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica and has had to cancel its operations for a period. REDjet now services the Barbados to Guyana route.
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