Dave Levenstone (UMP) calls on island governments to make BES Air Connection work

Dave Levenstone (UMP) calls on island governments to make BES Air Connection work
EZ Air’s second Saab340 aircraft arrived yesterday out of the United States. Photo: Roger Cannegieter

THE BOTTOM/KRALENDIJK- The leader of extra parliamentary opposition party UPM, and former head of Economic Affairs for Saba Government, Dave Levenstone, calls on the local governments of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba to come together to work on making an air connection between Bonaire and St. Eustatius, with onwards connection to Saba, a reality. 

“It is time for the so called BES islands Governments to come together and work out a deal with EZ Air to transport passengers between Bonaire and St. Eustatius” according to Levenstone on Wednesday. Levenstone envisions that once on Statia, a carrier like SXM Airways could provide onward connection to Saba. 

“After all, EZ Air has been funded with money from the BES islands pension fund for civil servants, teachers and health care workers (PCN). “Bonaire is full of Dutch tourist who may want to take a trip to these two islands. We never know”, says Levenstone in an explanation. 

Public transportation

Many parties have already looked into the connection. Some even see an obligation by Dutch Government to ensure that a connection between the BES-island become a reality. A report by consultancy SEO some years back said that a Public Service Obligation (PSO), by Dutch Government would probably be needed to make the connection happen. The report notes, among others, that the route between Bonaire and St. Eustatius would most probably not be economically viable, being a so called ‘thin route’, but that with Government Subsidy, the route could still function. 


The Dutch Government so far has been reluctant to provide any long-term subsidy for the route, or even engage in discussions about the setup of such route. After an short-lived experiment with the CN-Express  and some months of a subsidized flights in the heat of the Covid-Pandemic, making use of a WINAIR/Air Antilles wet leased aircraft, no serious attempts have been made to set up the route between the BES-Islands. 

While the CN-Express was not very successful, many point to the fact that the route lacked marketing efforts, a good preparation before the start of the route was missing and in spite of being a subsidized flight, tickets were still very expensive. To make matters even more challenging, it was extremely difficult to purchase tickets on the flights, reason for which the flights oftentimes did not have more than about 10 persons aboard.

Second Chamber

The calls by Dave Levenstone are not new. Statia resident Jan Meijer, for instance, has written numerous letters to the permanent Kingdom Committee of the Second Chamber on the same topic. Most of Meijer’s letters to the Committee however go unanswered. Councilman Koos Sneek of the List Sneek has also various times made the case for a direct connection between Bonaire and St. Eustatius, but to no avail. 

Levenstone says he doesn’t want to wait any longer on the Kingdom Government. “It is my conviction that the islands should take this matter in their own hands and sit down with EZ Air Management to see what can be achieved. We don’t always have to make ourself dependent on what Holland does or want, if we see that this is an important matter for us and our economies”, concludes Levenstone. 

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