Philipsburg- WINDWARD ISLANDS AIRWAYS INTERNATIONAL (WINAIR) N.V. and WICSU/PSU who represent WINAIR’s Pilot group remain in discussions regarding the reduction of work hours and resulting reduction in salaries. According to the airline, both work hours and remuneration were reduced equally by 25%.
Winair explains that the measure does not only affect the pilots, but was implemented across the board equally affecting ground personnel, Managers, Executive Management and Supervisory Board.
“Due to Winair’s precarious financial position ( a negative equity position) at the beginning of the pandemic, management had to take immediate action to stretch the available cash as long as possible, whilst in the meantime engaging in discussions with banks and its two (2) shareholders to secure the financing necessary to ride out this storm not knowing exactly how long this situation would last”, according to Winair in a press statement on Monday afternoon.
According to the carrier, based on the developments, aviation experts and regulatory bodies have made it clear that aviation would need at least two (2) years to recover from this pandemic and reach some form of normalcy. The carriers stresses that it did not have the financial stamina to survive this period without drastic measures and additional financing.
Winair also says that the largest shareholder, Country St. Maarten made clear that it would not be able to provide liquidity support beyond the SSRP due to its own financial position. The SSRP, although being a welcome tool to preserve employment, was clearly not enough to lower costs sufficiently to match the drop in revenue. The SSRP received was fully paid out to employees.
Loss of revenue
Compared to the situation before the pandemic, Winair to date has lost around 80% of its revenue and this situation still persists. On December 30, 2020, after nine (9) months of correspondences and discussions with both shareholders, Winair was granted a mortgage loan of USD 3 million by its minority shareholder, the Netherlands. We refer to the numerous media articles in which it was clearly stated that the loan was granted to allow WINAIR to pay its creditors and ultimately prevent bankruptcy.
All government owned companies and civil servants are required to work a complete work schedule with a salary reduction of 12.5%. Winair states its employees are paid for all hours worked, in addition, aggressive cost cutting measures have been achieved with the assistance of all companies that provide goods and services to the company.
The carrier also says that currently there are negotiations with the Netherlands as further financial support is needed if Winair is to rebuild its business and return to some degree of normalcy. The carrier promises however that, once a degree of normalcy and viability returns, Winair will return to the pre-Covid level of work hours and salaris.
Winair says that while the Company is negotiating with the union, they are aware that the current issues could lead to industrial action by the flight crew. “Should this occur we will do all possible to provide for our customer transportation needs working with our various partners. Winair will do all possible to advise our customers of any possible negative effects minimizing any inconvenience to them”.