The US Department of Transportation has issued Red Air (L5, La Romana International) an exemption and, tentatively, a show cause order awarding it a foreign air carrier permit (FACP), according to a docket served on April 4.

The Dominican Republic carrier with ties to Venezuela’s Laser Airlines (QL, Caracas Simón Bolivar) initially applied for the FACP for scheduled services in August 2021. It had already secured, on June 10, 2021, an exemption and tentative FACP for charter services between the Caribbean nation and the United States.

Red Air gained its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) in early June, and later that month the Dominican Republic’s Civil Aviation Board (Junta de Aviación Civil - JAC) granted it the updated economic authority it needed to operate scheduled flights from the country to both Miami International and Panamá City Tocumen International.

It was after this awarding of updated certificates that it petitioned the DOT on August 6 to amend its authorisation to include scheduled flights to the US, specifically between the Dominican Republic and both Miami and Tampa International. Authorisation now includes scheduled and charter air transportation of persons, cargo, property, and mail from any point, or points between points, in the Dominican Republic and points in the United States and beyond, with or without stopovers. The requested exemption authority was granted for a one-year term, or until the requested permit authority becomes effective, whichever occurs earlier.

The DOT noted that the United States-Dominican Republic Air Transport Agreement of 1986 provides rights for Dominican carriers to conduct scheduled services from the country to New York, Miami, and two additional points in the mainland United States to be selected by the Dominican government. It said it had received communications from Santo Domingo in October 2021 and February 2022 selecting Tampa as one of those points and designating Red Air to conduct scheduled services there.

The DOT also added: “We have previously determined that Red Air is wholly owned by citizens of the Dominican Republic, and that the applicant’s president and key management personnel are all citizens of the Dominican Republic.”

However, it cautioned: “In light of our previous awareness of the possibility of the applicant considering the conduct of certain Venezuela-US services and consistent with our last action in this docket granting the applicant exemption authority, we again remind Red Air and any prospective partner carriers and operators that the Department has suspended all foreign air transportation between Venezuela and the United States, to include connecting services via third-country points.”

On April 6, Red Air announced through local media “special market rates” for an upcoming daily route between Santo Domingo Las Américas and Miami but did not specify a launch date.

Red Air currently operates three MD-82s plus one MD-81 and an additional -81 due for delivery, all of which have been transferred from Laser Airlines.