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So I read Olivier Arrindell’s story in the media over the weekend and as late as Monday, June 13, 2016. In it, he announces that AVA Airways received a business economic permit. I checked, and found out that what he got was Government approval to establish an NV (or BV). Contrary to WINAIR and INSEL AIR, he does NOT have an Economic License, or an Airline Operators Certificate (AOC). Arrindell claims to have been in the airline business for almost 10 years and says he has the know-how on how to take commercial aviation in St. Maarten into a bold new direction and how to be innovative. I have a few questions: Where exactly was Arrindell in the aviation business? What was Arrindell’s function(s) in the airline business? Was he part of Management, or just an employee? What type of aircraft did the airline he was associated with utilize? What part of the Latin American market as it relates to destination St. Maarten/St. Martin does he think he has more (or better) knowledge of than some of the big airlines that presently fly in and out of South America, one of which is COPA AIRLINES that services St. Maarten? And then this: Why is it that whenever Arrindell wants to say something about his hallucination airline AVA Airways, does he always seem to have the need to bash WINAIR and/or INSEL AIR (with erroneous information, I might add)? Can he not just “do his AVA thing” and leave these two airlines (that actually fly, have airplanes, employees, routes and oh, yes, Airline Operators Certificates) alone? Arrindell is claiming to know how airlines need to expand borders, not be stuck in time and how to be innovative in order to survive. His AVA Airways however has yet to start up, let alone survive! When will we be able to see, touch and feel AVA’s first A320 jetliner (NEO or not)? And can Arrindell tell us exactly what he means with AVA’s proposed operations on “an East –West hub”? Is AVA planning to fly East out of St. Maarten to the only destinations in that direction which after Antigua & Barbuda are countries like Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and other countries on the African continent and West out of St. Maarten to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, Mexico, and other Central American countries? Since he seems not to be interested in the traditional North American market, is it his intention to fill his Airbuses with tourists from these destinations to the East and West of SXM? Or maybe offer the SXM Tourist great airfares TO the abovementioned destinations? Being a local businessman myself, I fully support the establishment of other local businesses. But I am very wary of smoke and mirrors and while I do not pretend to know much, I know enough about the airline business to confirm that to operate ANY Airbus aircraft, Jet Fuel is needed; hot air is only useful when one operates balloons.

Michael J. Ferrier


Congrats to NV GEBE new supervisory board members.
Philipsburg – The OSPP is hereby extended hearty congratulations to the newly appointed members of the board of NV GEBE. You are very much aware of the gigantic task that lies ahead of you and we want to caution you to make the right decisions in favour of the people of St. Maarten. Some of you have served on this board before and you are granted another opportunity to carry out the much needed services for the people.
The purchasing of a new engine to avoid the latest load shedding that we have been experiencing recently and the building of water tanks must top the list of priorities coming from the sitting government. A waste to energy plant and the establishment of a solar panel park is also of utmost importance. These actions will require some deliberating with the new management team and the supervisory board.
However, we believe very strongly that one of the most important decisions that this board has to make now within the next thirty days together with the new management team is to change the commercial rates that are being charged to our schools to a more affordable rate, a rate equivalent to the residential rate or lower. The savings that will be derived from a change of rate should be applicable to the school fee that our parents are paying for their children to attend primary and secondary schools. We are calling on our Minister of Education, Ms. Silveria Jacobs to add free primary and secondary education to the educational program, Education on the Move. Education must be free. We are begging her to bring such a proposal to the next Council of Ministers meeting and to instruct NV GEBE to carry it out. Failure to act now is a deliberate move not to help our people and to keep our young people from moving up the ladder.
If this nation truly believes that education is a life time investment and it is the key to success then we should move mountains to provide our children with free education. NV GEBE is owned 100% by the government of St. Maarten and by extension the people of St. Maarten. As the shareholders of this company the people must be able to receive some type of dividends and the first payment must come in the form of reducing the rates charged to the schools and passing this savings on to the real owners, the people of St. Maarten. Many parents are not able to pick up their children report cards because they could not afford to pay the school fees. These school fees that they have to pay can now be used to buy a much needed computer in their home and other educational material to better prepare our young people. Only the prepared will inherit the future.

Lenny Priest OSPP Leader.

An essential tool to safe Travel.

Technology has long enabled security checks to be executed at Airports. These security checks were further enhanced globally after 9/11 with more advanced scanning systems. Looking back at the security conducted through the years and recent terror attacks it is evident that the security focus too long was solely placed on the traveler about to embark on a journey. Strange enough no real security facilities/systems are in place to scan and monitor all movement through departure and arrival areas of airports. Strange it is indeed as these areas always have large gatherings of people lugging luggage around totally unrestricted and boundless access from the road. It is unfortunate that no prior attention was paid to this vulnerability and now measures will be developed post tragedy instead of as a prevention. Measures all travelers will welcome, to suffice a dire need to feel safe and secure. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) will surely be at the basis of the future security measures to be implemented, yet current facilities should be further enhanced as can redress safety concerns.
The advantage of online check-ins: All airlines should be required to provide online check-in portals that actually work well. Many large Airlines provide a check-in portals however often not open to international travelers. Online check-in however is a means to prevent the long check-in lines, and so large gatherings in airport departure halls. Mere bag drops would permit for a faster movement through the departure terminal. Yet facilities will be required that can screen the contents of bags and persons as they enter the airport. The latter can be expected within short, and rest assure ICT will provide those systems. The disadvantage of online check-in is that not all travelers may have access to internet connectivity preventing access to and the use of check-in portals, prior to travel. The availability of check-in terminals can however mitigate this disadvantage.
Curbside check-in offered at certain airports is another means to enhance security, in the event entry into the airport areas is done with prior security screening. Is this paranoia or the introduction of a system one would imagine to be part of that futuristic world portrayed in the Jetsons. Can we expect within short that all wanting access to airports would have to pass through a security screening? Will airport security evolve to the implementation and use of massive scanners of persons, vehicles and luggage venturing on airport facilities? Whilst it is not yet clear how the world will respond, and which standards for security will be developed, it is imminent that unrestricted access to airports will be a thing of the past. We may not expect luggage drop off for transport through a security conveyer belt from the moment we seek a parking ticket or seek access to drop off or a screening ramp for vehicles entering the airport area , for that all may be deemed to futuristic. Rest assure the new screening tools will be ICT based and will constitute the next generation is security screening.
As airports are not the sole targets for acts of terrorism, many other means of public transportation, access to concert areas, public parks etc. will see the implementation of new and more advanced security measures, to detect the presence of explosives. Security perimeters will now be placed further away from buildings and events to mitigate impact. Security officers will not become obsolete, but a greater need for ICT security means will be required, as these means detect what the eye may not. ICT will be required to aid secure travel by bus, train, metro or by any vehicle on our roadways.

What is affected by budget cuts?

The first idea that may come up when reading this heading is that this article pertains to the strength category of a hurricane. A Cat I hurricane we simply do not fear anymore in St. Maarten, as after Luis and Marilyn in 1995 we learned how to prepare. CAT I in this article has no relation to the tropical storms we face. Category I is the status our Civil Aviation Authority must have and maintain, if there is a desire by the country to maintain commercial flights to the United States or maintain codeshare arrangements with US partner airliners. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) assesses the ability of the country’ civil aviation authority to oversee air carriers in its territory. This ability is measured based on the compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards for the industry. The assessment is executed through the International Aviation Safety Assessment program (IASA) and focusses on eight (8) key elements of aviation safety as set forth in the ICAO Safety Oversight Manual- document number 9734. The eight (8) key requirements of compliance are:
1] Primary aviation legislation;
2] Specific operating regulations;
3] State civil aviation system and safety oversight functions;
4] Technical personnel qualification and training;
5] Technical guidance, tools and the provision of safety critical information;
6] Licensing, certification, authorization, and approval obligations;
7] Surveillance obligations; and

The Netherlands Antilles enjoyed the category I status as being part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but that all changed in 2010 when Curacao and St. Maarten attained separate status within the Kingdom. The Curacao Civil Aviation Authority needed to undergo an inspection, and the deficiencies found resulted in a downgrade in 2012 to a category II status. This downgrade affected St. Maarten as well, due to the fact that the country’s the (PJ) aircraft registry prefix. Even though this downgrade does not affect flights in operation, it does mean that no new flights/service can be undertaken by airlines from St. Maarten to the US and its territories. It is therefore of essence that a category I status is regained, since our economic development is contingent hereon. In this context we must realize that this young country having assumed the Civil Aviation Authority for the first time after the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles, by far did not have the developed framework in place as was the case in Curacao. Yet with the limited means available the start-up of this entity commenced. The St. Maarten Civil Aviation Authority is functional today, yet not much attention is given to this entity. As a tourism destination and tourism being the main pillar of our economy one would think that the Government would take this matter on as a priority. The safety of our aviation industry is at stake here, yet we must fear that budget cuts may result in this matter not promptly being addressed. It is a known fact that many new authorities assumed since 10-10-10 placed a real burden on the country as many institutions were not present in the country before, the human resources and expertise often yet to be acquired. Yes we all know that Curacao did not keep its promises to help set up the many new institutions country St. Maarten would require, and may still not have transferred our share of the moneys out of the division of the Netherlands Antilles Estate, but if we follow the words of the Minister of Finance we can forget that our share will be released any time soon. So with a strapped budget, cuts left and right, healthcare requiring urgent attention, one can only assume that budget cuts will also affect the quest of the Civil Aviation Authority to regain a category I status. The hiring and training of staff may not be possible, the acquisition of equipment required may be delayed, the much needed regulations, which must undergo legal screening by Legal affairs, may follow a slow process as this division neither has the manpower nor the aviation expertise to truly execute a prompt screening. So how will this category I status be regained, if the importance hereof is not understood or simply mitigated? Yes we need to tighten our belt, but we also need to ensure that we are a safe destination for incoming and outgoing aircrafts, as we depend on this means of transportation for our entire socio-economic growth. The tourism industry- the aviation industry- brings us the much needed revenues, and these revenues will not grow if we are unable to meet aviation safety standards. If expansion of airlift to US territories is deemed part of our further development as a destination, then we need to get our priorities straight. So maybe it is time to set the politics aside. Budget cuts, should go hand in hand with the clearing of a polluted Government payroll, and hiring should be done in areas most needed. Maybe those still on the Government payroll who have not worked for the administration in years and are generating income through other jobs as well, should be taken off that payroll. In the interest of the country those who are needed and are willing to work should be hired. If a clean-up is undertaken this Government would be surprised at the amount of revenues it would have to hire qualified, young St. Maarteners who are hungry to contribute towards their country. Yet this clean-up should not be expected in an election year. Considering all the afore the question remains: “are the budget cuts undertaken the right ones, in the right areas, without creating additional liabilities?” For if these cuts are the sole basis for the Government to operate on a balanced budget, areas requiring urgent attention and staffing will be left unattended. Whilst balancing a budget on paper the reality will be that fragmented budget cuts will harm us in the long run, and will prevent economic growth. Category I will remain a desired status by the Civil Aviation Authority to be attained.

Oliver Arrindell questions ownership WINAIR.

Dear Editor

Yesterday I received a insulting email from Mr. Ferrier. The email I got from this person is as follows see below. My simple question is whom is the owner of Winair. Mr. Ferrier or the people of St. Maarten. In preparation of my meeting with the Government of St. Maarten I wanted to illustrate some very important factors of how the winair operation can benefit SXM in a PPP Privet Public Partnership. However It can clearly show the President of Winair whom is working directly for Michael has provided him with this information. All Government own company financial's are public interest information. As you can see the network between Insel Air, Winair and the same way how Insel Air Director Edward Hereveen send a email out for Minister Suzy Camelia Romer not to give Ava Airways a permit in Curacao, now you can see that Winair is trying to play the same dirty games in SXM. Please keep in mind it was the Prime Minister of St. Maarten whom have directed me to the Winair board.

The reality is both airlines are operating out of comformality of the regulations


Oliver Arrindell

Letter from PM Marlin to Olivier Arrindell.

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