The Daily Herald writes that during the recent Central Committee Meeting held on St. Eustatius, the Executive Council mentioned it is considering a new airlift to French St. Martin as an alternative to Winair. This was revealed in last Friday’s Central Committee meeting by Reginald Zaandam (UPC), Commissioner of Finance. The commissioner was asked by Council Member Adelka Spanner (DP) to explain an annual budget shortfall of US $68,000 in airport revenues and to indicate what the government was doing to increase activity at the airport. “Marketing of the airport is not only the responsibility of government, but also a collaborative act to benefit the operation of the airport.
Government is well aware of the collapse in air passenger numbers from St. Maarten. This collapse is for a greater part the result of the high airfare to and from Statia,” said the Commissioner. “We are therefore looking into a cheaper alternative airlift to Grand Case with shuttle to Philipsburg. One downside would be an increase in travel time of forty-five minutes.” “It is amazing that Winair was set up to avoid isolation of these islands. But it is now pricing itself out of every market and cutting off Statia and Saba from neighbouring islands. The airline has already ditched direct flights from Statia to Saba and is now killing off their only “bread and butter” route from St. Maarten to St. Eustatius. We are nevertheless pleased that Trans Anguilla Airways is now offering a cheap and dependable service to Anguilla and St Kitts.”
The Commissioner also emphasised that there would be no increase in airport tax for the moment. “This is not considered, because of the high airfare that our people are subjected to without any alternative. On the other hand, government can come with alternatives in dealing with airlift. However, it is the people that can really make any alternative successful by taking an educated choice in their travelling plans,” the commissioner concluded.