The Daily Herald reports that Windward Islands Airways Winair announced on Monday that it will be increasing the fares between St. Maarten and St. Eustatius “slightly” due to “erosion” in the route. Consumers will now have to pay an additional NAf. 6 per segment (US $3.33) or NAf. 12 (US $6.66) per round trip to cover Winair’s operating cost on this route. This is an increase of about 6% over the current fare.
The company says Winair’s traffi c between St. Maarten to St. Eustatius and back to St. Maarten in 2013 plummeted by 3,567 passengers, when compared to the 2012 fi gures. The figures continue to plummet for the first two months of this year. In January traffic went down by 126 passengers and in February by 262 passengers “These disappointing passenger counts are the result of a fi nite market in St. Eustatius and are generated by several factors including the postponement of planned terminal expansion in Nu Star in St. Eustatius, reduction of travel by approximately 50 per cent of [Dutch medical insurance – Ed.] SVK for medical treatment and the lack of tourist facilities in St. Eustatius to generate replacement traffic,” Winair said in its release.
The company said it does not take the decision of a fare increase lightly, but noted that in order to maintain five daily frequencies to St. Eustatius “this modest price increase is necessary.” Winair said it has notified St. Eustatius Commissioner Carlyle Tear in charge of the airport and transportation affairs, as well as shareholders of its decision.
The fare increase will take effect April 15. Winair said it maintains safe and reliable traffic throughout the Caribbean and receives no fi nancial subsidies or support from its shareholders or destination it serves and its mandate from its shareholders remains that Winair must be viable and financially sustainable.
Winair is a Government owned regional airline founded in 1961. The airline operates five de Havilland Twin-Otter aircrafts and one new state-of-theart ATR 500 or 600 series aircraft. Winair has provided safe and effi cient air transportation in the Caribbean for more than 53 years and offers daily connections from its main gateway, Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten to Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Barth, Nevis and St. Kitts, Santo Domingo, Curaçao, Tortola, Anguilla, Dominica and Guadeloupe.
The closed medical school on the island accounted for probably a third of the lost revenue. Another sad side effect of the lack of governmental support for the medical school