REDjet has apologised to customers who were either unable to travel on the low-cost carrier or had their flights delayed last month as the company battled with an aircraft shortage. But it says flights are now back on track.
Service was disrupted for a two-week period last month as the airline’s only two planes were grounded – one for scheduled maintenance in Costa Rica and the other because of problems with its hydraulic system.
“I want to state categorically that REDjet has 100 percent commitment to safety and security of our passengers, our crew and our aircraft and we make all the right calls to ensure that that commitment is upheld, so we don’t take any chances,” CEO Ian Burns said at a “clear the air” press conference yesterday.
“Unless our engineers and our pilots are 100 percent happy with our aircraft we do not fly and that has happened, as you can see, from August 21 to September 2.”
During that period, according to Burns, 11 flights were cancelled and 15 were delayed and 953 passengers were displaced as a result. The company did not speak to how much the cancellations and delays cost the airline, however.
In explaining how REDjet found itself in that position, Chief Operations Officer Kevin Dudley told the press conference that while the airline had sought permission to have a backup plane while the first was being serviced, approval was not granted until August 30.
The second aircraft being out of commission was unexpected; and while REDjet said it tried its best to correct the problem expeditiously Dudley said both the company’s engineers and technical support from Boeing were “perplexed by the complexity of the defect”.
Even after the problem was identified, getting the required parts from the United States was delayed because of the passage of Hurricane Irene. The final parts eventually arrived in Barbados last Saturday morning and the aircraft was repaired by that evening.
“We did a full air test on Sunday, September 4 to ascertain, to our 100 percent satisfaction, that the defects had been cleared and the aircraft was ready to fly,” Dudley explained. “During this period we had a backup aircraft and that aircraft remains with us through this week until September 11, by which time our aircraft which is due back from maintenance will be back with us and back in the fleet.”
Burns further disclosed that REDjet will have two new aircraft added to its fleet by the end of the year. Another two will be in the air within the first quarter of 2012.