The airlift -or better said the lack thereof- between Statia and its surrounding islands was a hot item in Thursday’s Island Council meeting on Statia.
During the meeting, questions were also raised about the financial support provided to Winair by The Netherlands. “I heard the transport manager say last week, that the loan agreement with Winair among other states that Winair is obligated to carry out at least two flights Statia- St. Maarten daily. I stand corrected, but as far as I know, they fly momentarily no more than 2 flights per week”, according to councilman Koos Sneek.
Sneek also noted that while he was in St. Maarten, he noticed that there were at least 10 daily flights to St. Barths. “We all know that the route to St. Barths has always been higher on Winair’s priority list than the routes to Saba and Statia. So, my question is: who is really benefitting from the loan”?
A motion presented by Sneek and Rechelline Leerdam (PLP) calls on the Statia’s Executive Council to ensure that the recommendations of the report by former KLM CEO Peter Hartman, to subsidize flights for BES-Residents would finally be put in motion. It aims to achieve a better and more airlift between Statia and its surrounding islands. The motion received broad support from 4 out of the 5 island council members. Only Clyde van Putten voted against the motion.
Despite all best intentions these representatives let themselves be used for the shady dealings in which KLM, Winair and the Dutch ministry participate. WinAir is a bottomless pit, with his financial reporting in the shadows, a too large overhead and too high prices.
A complete restructuring is necessary to operate as a true business, not a protected government airliner. For WinAir’s management it’s heaven, because the salaries are beyond those of the government, but if something goes wrong, 2 governments may pay for the damages.
Of course there’s a need for better connections, but betting on one ‘company’ will not do good.
Besides, a plan for both more than one airliner and a regular ferry service, would comply to more than one objective.
I wonder why some governments try to keep up, against better knowledge, their own airliner? For the old or actual motherlands, the (former) colonial countries, it’s not their highest priority that the connections between the Caribbean islands are kept upright. It would be better, also economically speaking, if the joint Caribbean islands, dependent and independent, together would form a new airliner. So this could have enough scale to endure.
The Dutch government has delivered the people of Saba and Statia to the goodwill or in fact, the lack of it, of the board of Winair. In Den Haag nobody is going to help us, not the government, not the various ministries and especially not the Second Chamber. The populations of our islands are that small that even if we could organize all votes on one person, the BES-votes don’t count much. I believe it’s only 4% of the electoral quota needed to get one MP in the Chamber. So, without defining elections as unhelpful, in our case it is. Unfortunately. Everybody who says otherwise has possibly other goals.
But we need more transport possibilities, both by air and by sea. How can we get hands and money to arrange something?