Ian ‘RedJet’ Burns passes at 58: Will son Robby pursue the dream?

Received a message from a Trinidad pal via Facebook that the founder of the Caribbean’s Low Fares Carrier had passed away, spent most of this morning hoping it was not true but verifying via different sources. Finally, a top source in branch of a local telecoms firm was able to confirm with Bajan Reporter, apart from reading in LoopJamaica, sent an eMail to one of the late executive’s fellow Irish compadres, but they’re unavailable…

The following is an edited version of what LoopJamaica indicated;-

CEO and founder of the frustrated regional carrier RedJet, Ian Burns, passed away at the age of 58.

Burns succumbed to a massive heart attack in his native Ireland on Wednesday.

Burns with his son Robbie started regional low fare carrier RedJet which officially began in October 2010. The Hub was placed in Barbados after Jamaica refused to register the airline in that jurisdiction. The Freundel Stuart regime allowed Burns to set up base at Grantley Adams International Airport despite the same Gov't having 49% of shares in LIAT, a conflict of interest which in the end spelled bad news for RedJet.

Burns with his son Robbie started regional low fare carrier RedJet which officially began in October 2010. The Hub was placed in Barbados after Jamaica refused to register the airline in that jurisdiction. The Freundel Stuart regime allowed Burns to set up base at Grantley Adams International Airport despite the same Gov’t having 49% of shares in LIAT, a conflict of interest which in the end spelled bad news for RedJet.

Burns believed how the region could be unified by affordable and efficient air travel which would be a boon to the region’s economy. He was inspired by his son Robbie’s then internship with Digicel and the prohibitive cost of flying between the Caribbean islands.

Burns bravely battled despite facing a (now former) Minister who was helping LIAT choose what planes to buy, this as a Permanent Secretary in the relevant Barbadian Ministry handling air passage had the unusual position of being both Public Sector and a Director of LIAT - another spoke in devising what should have been a simple operation. (CLICK FOR BIGGER)

Burns bravely battled despite facing a (now former) Minister who was helping LIAT choose what planes to buy, this as a Permanent Secretary in the relevant Barbadian Ministry handling air passage had the unusual position of being both Public Sector and a Director of LIAT – another spoke in devising what should have been a simple operation. (CLICK FOR BIGGER)

Even Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell saw the creation of RedJet as a boon to intra-regional trade from the consumer to agriculture and other trade matters in his Quarterly Reviews of 2011.

Much to the chagrin of both LIAT and Caribbean Airlines - Using two MD-82 planes and 94 employees, Burns undertook the Herculean task to link Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, St Lucia and Guyana with fares as low as US$9.99 one way.

Much to the chagrin of both LIAT and Caribbean Airlines – Using two MD-82 planes and 94 employees, Burns undertook the Herculean task to link Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, St Lucia and Guyana with fares as low as US$9.99 one way.

His model posed a serious threat to the more traditional regional carriers who sought to see the back of RedJet. This concept of a radical simplification of pan-regional flight fees led to slur tactics on Facebook and Barbados Free Press by characters under pseudonyms of allegedly ‘Robert Taylor‘ or ‘Angela Beaverhausen‘, even attempting to use Burns’ own son’s name as an alias on occasion.

Speaking of the aeronautical titan, Loop News’ Group Executive Editor Al Edwards said: “Ian Burns was irrepressible and remained steadfast in his vision of affordable air travel that would link the region. Many men would have given up long ago and consigned their dream to just that – a dream. Not Ian, he remained indefatigable, unbowed and kept on striving. The Caribbean would be altogether better if his vision was able to become a reality. I for one will miss him dearly and he exemplified what a champion is all about. He had the qualities of a great sportsman – heart, will, tenacity, dignity and endurance.”

I will always recall Ian Burns trying to do Dub Chant at Pablo Donte's in Maxwell Christ Church, it spoke of the vitality and desire to be a one of the people and not ignoring their needs as it appeared so many CARICOM Governments chose to do with RedJet except for Guyana, who alone tried to provide a bailout stimulus for the embattled fleet.

I will always recall Ian Burns trying to do Dub Chant at Pablo Donte’s in Maxwell Christ Church, it spoke of the vitality and desire to be a one of the people and not ignoring their needs as it appeared so many CARICOM Governments chose to do with RedJet except for Guyana, who alone tried to provide a bailout stimulus for the embattled fleet.

For Bajan Reporter itself, we truly mourn the loss of Ian Burns, but hope his son Robbie will seek to revive the carrier using another island as a Hub. Placing the fee structure at a commencement of $99.00 USD and bring back what allowed this blogging journalist to see other islands, had it not been for the once and future Low Fares Caribbean carrier, RedJet! Slainte!

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