SXM AIRPORT, STAKEHOLDER START TALKS ON AIR SERVICE MAINTENANCE AND DEVELOPMENT
SIMPSON BAY, St. Maarten (May 15, 2013)—What is the way forward in maintaining and
further developing airlift to St. Maarten? That was the key question addressed by
stakeholders and management of Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) at a
4-hour forum held Tuesday, May 14, 2013, at the boardroom of the airport.
Welcoming the stakeholders to the meeting, managing director of the airport, Regina
LaBega recalled that the last air service maintenance and development plan was done
in 2004 and pointed out that a new one was therefore overdue. To this end, SXM
Airport has commissioned El Perial Management Services to carry out the study.
LaBega gave a brief overview of SXM’s air travel market, revealing that of the 1.6
million passenger movement recorded last year, 85% of this consisted of visitors
while the remaining 15% was made up of residents. According to her, 49% of
passengers traveled within the key five months from December to April, with scheduled air service making up 95% of the total airlift to the island.
The SXM managing director further disclosed that a draft Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) for pre-clearance of passengers bound for Anguilla and St. Barths is currently
under discussion, while SXM personnel attended a training session last week in Aruba
in connection with sharing immigration information with SITA.
In his presentation, Ian Bertram, principal of El Perial Management Services, stated
that his company would be looking at where SXM Airport is at present, its competitive positioning against selected airports, and the potential direction for air service development over the next five years.
He further remarked that SXM could serve as hub airport for Dominica, Nevis and even
Tortola. The hub partners, he stressed, should see SXM as their airport, arguing that it was much more cost effective for them to do so, rather than the alternative of embarking on developing an international airport that could carry a minimum price tag of US$60 million, without any guarantee that they could maintain it or attract enough passengers to make it a viable proposition.
The consultant made a strong plea for regional airport integration, pointing out
that Antigua and St. Kitts need not be competitors for SXM. “We need to stop
thinking of ourselves in terms of our colonial heritage and start seeing ourselves
in terms of our geographic location,” Bertram stressed.
Calling for an open sky policy throughout the region, Bertram emphasized that a hub
airport thrives in an open sky environment. “A whole lot of policy implications is
involved in this,” he noted.
Louis Halley, head of the Department of Civil Aviation & Shipping & Maritime
Affairs, disclosed that at present St. Maarten has open skies agreements with
Canada, the USA, and Antigua, however, similar agreements are not in place with
other regions such as South America.
The island’s and regional airlines at the Tuesday meeting, namely WINAIR and LIAT, stated that they are definitely in favor of open skies as long as there is a level
playing field in that regulations they must follow, must also be adhered to by the carriers of other nations. Their main concern was about cabotage. According to Bertram, open skies agreements would allow for more opportunities with the rest of the eastern Caribbean, which would facilitate SXM’s hub function.
Saro Spadaro, President of the Maho/Sonesta Group, emphasized that in his opinion,
the key to an effective hub is not only open skies, but open (free) movement of people and goods.
In his own contribution, SHTA President, Emile Lee, questioned whether there is a
point where the improved hub function could become detrimental to Dutch SXM,
expressing the concern that St. Maarten might not benefit much from being a hub if most of the passengers passing through it are headed for St. Barths and Anguilla, for example. He said he hoped SXM’s goal was to develop the market by increasing airlift at the lowest possible cost. SXM managing director, Regina LaBega explained that precisely to achieve that, SXM is seeking to lower aeronautical fees while
reasonably increasing its non-aeronautical revenues.
The forum ended on a very positive note with participants agreeing to the establishment of an Air Service Committee to be formed by senior personnel of the airport authorities of the hub clients as well as St. Maarten and regional
stakeholders. SXM Airport will take the lead in this regard.
SXM Managing Director, Regina LaBega (head of table) listens attentively during the
forum convened Tuesday to kick off the new study on air service maintenance and
development. To Labega’s left are Suzy Kartokromo, acting manager, Marketing and
Customer Service at SXM Airport, Silviane John of St. Martin Tourist Office, and
Ines Choisy of St. Barths Tourism Bureau. With back to camera are SHTA President,
Emile Lee (l) and Maho Group President, Saro Spadaro. (Photo courtesy SXM Airport)
NETWORK LATIN AMERICA OPENS ON ST. MAARTEN WITH RECORD NUMBER OF DELEGATES AND MEETINGS
PHILIPSBURG, December 6th, 2009 - Network Latin America, the conference where aviation executives of the Western Hemisphere will discuss their industry kicks off Monday morning at Westin Dawn Beach Resort.
More than 180 delegates representing aviation companies from all over Europe, North, South and Latin America and the Caribbean have descended upon St. Maarten to be in attendance for the two-day meet that is organized by Airline Business Magazine and hosted by Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company.
Organized annually by Airline Business magazine, the leading strategic title for airline executives, the meeting provides aviation executives with a platform for scheduled one-to-one meetings; There have been more than 250 one-to-one meeting scheduled, the most ever since Network Latin America was first held three years go.
“We have seen a rising curve in delegates attending as well; there are more people coming to this meeting than last year when we held this conference in Aruba. We are excited about the prospects,” said Jane Cartwright of Airline Business Magazine.
“Airline Business is delighted to be here in St Maarten to hold the third Network Latin America event. We will be welcoming nearly 200 delegates from airlines and airports from around the region to discuss new route opportunities across Latin America and the Caribbean.
As all of the islanders and our fantastic hosts at Princess Juliana International Airport know well, air travel is absolutely crucial to the economic welfare of this and many other Caribbean islands. We know our Network events really help develop new routes, and we know that this year’s event in St Maarten will be just as effective,” said Airline Business Editor Mark Pilling.
The conference opens on Monday with welcome speech by drs. Eugene Holiday, who will introduce St. Maarten’s airport and its Operating Company. Delegates and afterward sit in a panel of executives who will discuss the topic of “creating the right environment for sustainable route development in Latin America”.
drs. Holiday said aviation executives will walk away from this conference enriched with new insights into their industry.
“These types of meetings are a perfect forum for exchange on a level that is required now that the recession is officially behind us, travel confidence resuming and aviation executives are looking for the path onward,” he said.
The PJIAE President was delighted that Airline Business magazine chose St. Maarten as its venue. “As the main gateway to St. Maarten, we actively promote our island and our airport services. Hosting these types of conferences and bringing delegates from all over to experience what we are about fits within that strategy,” he said.
Delegates will therefore during the conference not only engage in the business meetings; the agenda leaves ample time for social activities, such as regatta racing on Sunday, tours of the airport facility and receptions.
ABOUT NETWORK LATIN AMERICA
Network Latin America 2009 is being held for the third time. Airline Business first introduced the Network concept where buyers and sellers come together in pre-arranged one to one meetings, 9 years ago when the first Network USA launched.
In addition to Network Latin America, the magazine’s 2009 events diary featured Network USA in Fort Worth last March and the Airline Distribution Conference in Vienna in April, with the Airline Strategy Awards in London in July and Network USA 2010 in Fort Lauderdale next March.
Airline Business’ website offers 10 years of searchable archives, 150 chief executive interviews and links to the Airline Business blogs written by the magazine’s editors. The Flight Global website, www.flightglobal.com, is the biggest aviation portal in the world.
ABOUT PJIAE AIRPORT Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) is the airport of St. Maarten, the smallest landmass in the world to be shared by two different nations. The northern side of the island is a French overseas territory called Saint Martin; the southern side –St. Maarten- is an island territory of the Netherlands Antilles, a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The airport is operated by Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company (PJIAE) NV, a limited liability company, wholly owned by PJIA Holding N.V. which in turn is fully owned by the Island Government of the Island Territory of St. Maarten.
It is one of the busiest airports in the northeastern Caribbean, a regional leader in aviation that plays a vital role as St. Maarten’s single most strategic economic asset. As the main hub that feeds the surrounding islands of Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Barths and Anguilla, PJIA daily channels thousands of sun-seekers on their way to a fun Caribbean vacation.
PJIA caters to an average of 1.7 million passengers annually and approximately 200 scheduled and charter flights a day from the Caribbean, Europe, North, Central and South America. A catalyst of continuous growth in the region, PJIAE commissioned a new terminal building in November 2006.
Spanning 30,500 square meters, the four-level ultra-modern facility is fully air-conditioned. It features 46 airline check-in counters with Common Use Terminal Equipment (CUTE) and 11 gates -four of which with jet bridges.
The airport also features an exciting duty free retail section and boasts of gastro outlets that sell a wide range of local and international cuisine.
ABOUT ST. MAARTEN
St. Maarten-Saint Martin is the smallest landmass in the world to be shared by two different nations. Christopher Columbus sighted the island on November 11, 1493, and named it after St. Martin, Bishop of Tours. Initially disregarded as unpromising, the island changed hands among the Dutch, the French, and the Spanish.
The French and Dutch finally split the island in 1648—the French got the largest part and called it Saint Martin; the Dutch made their half – St. Maarten- part of the Netherlands Antilles, which is a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Though they live on an island that is Dutch and French, all inhabitants speak predominantly English. There is no physical border between the two sides; just monuments and signs at each crossing.
The island is considered an almost perfect holiday environment; beaches are pristine and spectacular, shopping and dining rank among the best in the Caribbean.
St. Maarten has the endearing adage of being “The Friendly Island.” Annually some 1.5 million cruise ship passengers visit the island. Princess Juliana International Airport handled over 1.7 million passengers in 2008.
The island’s inhabitants come from no less than 103 different countries; many first-time visitors find themselves becoming return visitors or permanent residents. This tendency is contributing to a new emerging identity of the island. St. Maarten is a duty-free territory.
The island's official currency is the Antillean guilder, but the American dollar is extensively used. The exchange rate between the two currencies is fixed.
One American dollar can be converted in 1.78 Antillean guilders. By its affiliation with the Netherlands Antilles, St. Maarten is part of a Parliamentary Democracy. The Lieutenant Governor is the Chairperson of the Executive Council and represents the Queen of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Executive power is vested in the Executive Council consisting of five commissioners. Following a referendum on June 23, 2000, in which the majority of the electorate voted for a change in St. Maarten’s constitutional status, the Dutch side is on its way to become a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as such terminating its ties with the Netherlands Antilles.
In the Aviation sector on St. Maarten there are a number of service providers available to fulfil your every aviation need.