Both Support and Resistance New ZVK Flights Saba

ZVK feels that WINAIR’s capacity is hampering efficient movement of patients to and from Saba. Photo: Website SXM Airways.

The Bottom, Saba- The decision by health care provider ZVK to contract the services of SXM Airways to transport patients on Saba to other islands for medical treatment has met both support and resistance.

After initial communication of the decision by ZVK, the Executive Council of Saba reacted irritated, as they felt insufficiently informed about the decision, which is affecting patients in Saba.

“The Public Entity Saba laments the fact that it has not been informed beforehand about two important decisions of the Caribbean Netherlands Health Insurance Office ZVK that have an impact on the Saba people in regards to the transport of patients on island and off island”, according to the Excutive Council in a press release.

The Saba Government said they were only made aware earlier this week that the ZVK had implemented a new policy regarding the use of SXM Airways to transport patients from Saba to St. Maarten. “The Saba Government was confronted with these facts and was never involved in this decision-taking by the ZVK and neither was it informed by the ZVK on these matters”, according to the letter sent out by the Executive Council.

Lack of seats on WINAIR

“The decision to start with charter flights directly from Saba to St. Maarten vise versa as of March 4th stems from grievances filed by both our insured clients, as well as the medical practitioners on Saba and St. Maarten regarding the frequently occurring situation of non-availability of seats on Winair”, according to a statement from ZVK on the matter.  According to ZVK, the lack of sufficient seats cause too much discomfort for their clients after having been referred for medical consultation and of treatment on St. Maarten and beyond.

The lack of seats on Winair to both Saba and Statia has been much heard criticism on the islands. From a general economical perspective, an alternative provider executing flights between Saba and Sint Maarten is welcomed. On the other hand, some people do not feel comfortable to travel on the small(er) planes that SXM Airways uses for the execution of the flights.

“A patient who has to travel for health reasons is not well and does not need the additional stress of traveling on such a small plane”, a Saba resident wrote on Facebook.

Situation on Bonaire

On Bonaire ZVK some time back also contracted the services of local company EZ Air to provide transportation for their patients, especially after problems with Insel Air started. It is interesting to note that the Britten Normander planes used by EZ Air are the same planes used by SXM Airways. There have been few protests by patients in Bonaire, when it comes to the charter flights by EZ Air. Patients in general are quite happy about the service and the reliability of the flights.

On Statia some questioned if ZVK should not also contract the services of SXM Airways for the transportation of patients to and from the island, as the island also has complaints about the lack of seats on WINAIR flights.

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