Oranjestad, St. Eustatius- It is certainly not the first letter that Statia Resident Jan Meijer has written to the permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations on things that could be different on the island. The issue of financial support to Winair and the lack of alternatives in air transportation for Statia however, is one he feels particularly strong about.
“I noted with interest the letter from the Dutch Parliament (IENW/BSK-2020/259810 dd. 31 December 2020) in which it is stated that Winair will be offered a mortgage loan by the Dutch government after the Prime Minister of St. Maarten has requested it. The inter-insular connectivity would be at immediate risk. Koninkrijk.nu even speaks of rescuing Winair from bankruptcy. BES-reporter also speaks of saving Winair”, according to Meijer.
Meijer writes in his letter that the letter of Transport Minister Cora Van Nieuwenhuizen gives the impression that, without Winair, the connectivity of the Dutch islands in the Caribbean region would “completely collapse”. “As if airlines like EZ Air, SXM Airways and Divi Divi Air don’t matter, and are only there ‘for fun’ and certainly not essential”.
Meijer also notes that so far little attention has been given to mutual connectivity between Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. “When looking at what is desired in terms of connectivity (i.e. ‘the demand’), it strikes me (not only me) that the construction of the Dutch Caribbean has existed for over ten years now, but that to date no attention has been paid to the mutual connectivity between precisely these three islands (Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius).”
Meijers states that the fact that St. Maarten wants to play an important role in the transport between these islands is most charming, but Bonaire is not part of the obvious playing field of Winair (given the available equipment).
According to Meijer, Winair is constantly being hoisted on the shield acting as a ‘de facto monopolist’, which means that the prices for the customer are far from friendly. “The Dutch government doesn’t just let this happen, it even stimulates this way of working! By being co-owner of Winair, competitors are being kept out of the playing field, and -as now -providing financing relatively easily and cheaply”.
At the end of his letter, Meijer phrases various requests to the the Fixed Kingdom Committee, such as the inclusion of EZ Air in discussions about connectivity in the region, a change in ownership structure at Winair, whereby the Kingdom Government exits as shareholder and for St. Maarten Civil Aviation authority to exert better control when it comes to the so-called ‘wet lease’ structure with Air Antilles planes to fly the ABC routes.
The complete letter written by Meyer can be read here.
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