Ian Burns, the founder of Redjet, the airline that was the flag carrier of Barbados, died in his native Ireland on Wednesday.
Burns, 58, died from a massive heart attack.
Barbadian businessman, Ralph ‘Bizzy’ Williams said Thursday that Burns, probably died of a broken heart due to the failure of the low cost carrier.
Burns, founded Redjet in 2010, with one-way fares as low as US$9.99 across regional destinations.
Though widely popular among Caribbean commuters, the airline never got the institutional support sought from regional governments, Williams said. It ran into financial problems and collapsed in 2012.
“The man came to Barbados. He tried to set up a regional airline. He was frustrated non-stop by technocrats, here and in the other islands,” contended Williams, an investor who said he lost millions in the venture.
“And I guess he died of a broken heart. His heart failed him, and having to go back to Ireland to face all the people who invested in his project would have been a tough time for him. He was not a guy who was trivial with people’s money,” Williams told the Caribbean Media Corporation.
“We are now paying the price in the Caribbean.”
On the day Burns died, Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority, Adrian Elcock, bemoaned the loss of that airline, pointing to the dramatic reduction in visitors from the region to Barbados
“We’ve had a huge hole in the Caribbean since the demise of Redjet. We must get Caribbean Airlines and LIAT to work with us and allow us to develop competitive fares and packages to support our expansion in the region,” he said in an address to a grouping of Barbados’ smaller hotels.
Williams said, “With a little cooperation and help from government, Redjet would be flying today.”