Former PLP leader and Island Council member Clyde van Putten feels that St. Eustatius and Saba need to have a seat on Winair’s supervisory board.
Van Putten made his remarks in reaction to the news that he had, as only Statia’s Island Council member, voted against a motion on Thursday which was presented by Koos Sneek with certain demands on Winair. “To be very honest: I feel that what Koos Sneek is doing in regards to Winair is nothing more than a smokescreen for his upcoming election as a member of the CDA party”, said Van Putten on Saturday. Van Putten also pointed out that Sneek was also on the CDA list 4 years ago. “And what has Sneek done in the last four years about high ticket prices or Winair’s ‘de facto’ monopoly”? asked Van Putten.
Van Putten said, if the island really wanted to do something about Winair’s priorities and high airfares, the island should -together with Saba- also have a seat on Winair Supervisory Board.
“We as islands have a stake in Winair. Not Holland, but we as islands. I consider Winair our National Airline. We are dependent on Winair. This is one of the reasons I always supported Winair, even in the time of The Netherlands Antilles, when Central Government was unwilling to save Winair from bankruptcy at the time”, according to Van Putten.
Van Putten said he was not against, but actually in favor of more competition. “When the PLP was in office, we negotiated with various airlines like Seaborne from Puerto Rico, to provide alternate and better airlift to the island”. According to Van Putten, he feels that the island should get licenses for carriers to serve the island. The island could then determine who to give the licenses to, like for instance our own Blue Bead Airline, or even a company like EZ Air. “But the motion tabled by Sneek doesn’t contain any of that. It says a lot about Winair and promotion of their flight between Bonaire and Statia, but nowhere does it state how we would get better airlift of more competition”, said Van Putten.
Two dinosaurs are still fighting.
In a supervisory board you usually find representatives of the stakeholders. In this proposal Clyde wants to have the same position. Does it mean that he wants the governments of Saba and Statia to buy stocks of WinAir from the government of St. Maarten or the Dutch government? And to what amount and with whose money?
WinAir has a history of high prices. Several government funded investigations reported that WinAir’ prices were too high, compared with same distance island trips of other airliners. Nevertheless no government has ever demanded better, lower prices. Instead the Dutch government gave a loan, gave the monopoly of airtravel to and from Saba and Statia exclusively to WinAir. You could say that WinAir and governments are two hands on the same belly.
I think there is no will for change, and for the better. What if we called for a boycott of this not-for-the-people airliner? I am sure that in our region there are other companies that would fly against lower prices.
Let’s end the story of WinAir.