The death of former chief executive officer of REDjet, Ian Burns, who suffered a heart attack yesterday, has revived questions about when the defunct airline’s creditors will be paid.
Burns passed away in his native Ireland at the age of 58.
He died before the High Court in Barbados could approve a plan to repay creditors who are owed millions of dollars after REDjet ceased operations in June 2012
Attorney-at-law Anthony Audain, who acted on behalf of Dr Grenville W. Phillips who was appointed trustee after REDjet filed for insolvency, told Barbados TODAY he was saddened to hear of Burns’ passing because “he has been a champion not only on behalf of REDjet, but certainly on behalf of the many creditors who are still awaiting payment.”
“He had been working tirelessly with the trustee really to try to bring about a situation where creditors would receive at least something out of the money they have lost. The whole REDjet experience reflects very sadly on the regulatory system in Barbados and the support given to these fledgling enterprises,” he said.
As for the way forward, Audain said they were still awaiting the court’s approval for the proposal that could clear the way for creditors to get at least 25 cents of every dollar they are owed by the airline.
“The issue is still very much alive,” he said.
Barbadian businessman Ralph “Bizzy” Williams, who had invested in the carrier, described Burns as a man who had the best interest of the region’s aviation industry at heart, but had been frustrated by the red tape associated with getting the carrier fully operational.
“He came to the Caribbean with very high hopes of setting up an airline that would encourage or enable people to travel between the islands and the mainland United States at a reasonable price and he was frustrated to death by the technocrats across the Caribbean, especially in Barbados,” Williams said.
“Every effort he made to try to get past the blockades, he would run into another blockade. So eventually he had to face his investors from Ireland, and we here in the Caribbean had to face the fact that we would lose all the money we invested. It could “Many times I told him, ‘Ian, these people gine drive yuh crazy; just drop it and go long back to Ireland’, but he was a very determined man. Eventually he had to give in because the amount of delays that the airline faced in trying to get started and so on sapped up all the money that we had made available for the proper launch of it,” he added, recalling that he had given Burns the nickname Irish Bulldog because of his determination.