AIRPORT:--- The Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIAE) is set to start operations as of October 6th 2017. According to information provided to SMN News management of PJIAE has decided to open for commercial flights for all airlines that want to resume flying to St. Maarten.
While PJIAE will resume operation, the terminal building will remain closed as the entire roof of PJIAE terminal building has to change. SMN News understands that PJIAE suffered over $100M in damages and the repairs to the roof have not yet begun. It is further understood that the damage assessment is not yet completed neither can the bidding for the roof repairs begin. SMN News learned that PJAIE building was flooded during the passing of hurricane Irma and Maria and each time rain falls the airport terminal building is drenched with water.
Concessionaries at PJIAE are up in arms because they claim that while PJIAE building is fully insured, they have no private insurance for their merchandise. Reliable information reaching SMN News states that the concessionaires are claiming that while members of the public are not allowed to enter PJIAE premises they are losing merchandise. They alleged that even liquor is being stolen from the liquor store and believed that these merchandises are stolen by the marines that are currently occupying the airport.
Another hindrance is the lack of information to the concessionaires who chose to keep their merchandise in the damaged terminal building and to date have not taken the necessary precautions to remove their merchandise from the badly damaged terminal building. Efforts made to reach PJIAE management on Thursday has proved futile however, SMN News learned that management of PJIAE met with the Council of Ministers on Thursday to fully update them on their plans to reopen on October 6th.
No date set for restarting of commercial flights
PHILIPSBURG:--- Minister responsible for Aviation Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher has re-iterated that no official date has been announced by government for the resumption of commercial flights into St. Maarten.
The Minister stressed that travelers need to be careful with any information unless it comes from the official source, in other words, the government of St. Maarten. She said there is some confusion being created by, among other things, airlines announcing dates that they hope to resume service to the island.
In some cases, airlines are allowing people to book tickets although the green light has not been given by government to execute commercial flights. “We have stated before and will state again, the Princess Juliana International Airport has to meet various safety and operational regulations before it can handle commercial flights,” the Minister said.
“When we are at that point to accept commercial flights again, we will announce this and in due time. At the moment there is no date. We urge potential passengers abroad and at home to wait on official notification,” she added.
Press Release from the Ministry of TEATT
SXM Airport expects to resume commercial flights within short despite damages of up to US$100 million
SIMPSON BAY:--- The Princess Juliana International Airport, (SXM Airport) suffered damages of up to US$100 million as a result of the destruction caused primarily by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, according to initial estimates revealed by Michel Hyman, acting CEO and COO of the airport.
"Our main concern was the safety of our employees, all of whom have been accounted for after the storms. We however mourn the death of Renaldo Benjamin, aka "Bambi" who worked as an independent contractor at the airport. Our heartfelt condolences to his family and all the loved ones he left behind. May his soul Rest In Peace," Hyman said.
"Several of our staff suffered material damages and we very much appreciate the fact that in spite of the personal difficulties they are going through, they have continued to work diligently to ensure that we resume commercial operations within the shortest possible time," Hyman stated, adding that SXM airport should be able to start receiving commercial flights within short.
"But as always, safety and security is our main priority; the safety and security of the passengers and of all the airlines servicing the destination. Hurricane Irma was a mega-storm that inflicted severe damages to the whole island and to our hub partners, Anguilla, Tortola and St. Barths, however together we will bounce back and regain our enviable position as the leader in Caribbean aviation and the award-winning, world-famous airport we were before the storms," Hyman said.
"As a matter of fact," he said, "KLM has already announced that it will start flying twice weekly to St. Maarten from Amsterdam with effect from October 29th with a stopover in Curaçao.
"Similarly, Winair has indicated that if granted the necessary green light by the relevant authorities, it would introduce limited scheduled service to Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Barth, Antigua, and St. Kitts as of October 1st."
"All these are very encouraging developments that point to the fact that everyone is eager to return to normal service to the traveling public."
According to Hyman, both the airside and the landside of the airport suffered damages. However, the runway has been cleared to allow for humanitarian and emergency flights, including the evacuation of thousands of people, many of them tourists, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
In spite of winds of up to 230 mph recorded at the airport during Hurricane Irma, all four jet bridges were severely damaged.
"There were extensive roof and water damage to the interior of the airport due to this. As a result, there was significant damage to equipment, but thankfully no structural damage has thus far been identified, Hyman said.
He disclosed that the entire perimeter fencing has been destroyed. The restoration of the fence is critical because no commercial aircraft would land without the fencing up.
There were minimal damages to the fuel farm and the Air Traffic Control suffered severe water damage. The Fire station however was totally destroyed, Hyman said.
"SXM Airport has full insurance coverage, including business interruption. All our structures and assets are fully insured. Based on our policy, our employees have nothing to fear about their jobs or their wages," Hyman stated, adding that the airport has retained the renowned Willis Towers Watson as its claims advocate.
"Neither do our creditors have anything to fear because we have enough liquidity to service our debts for the next 18 months," he added.
According to him, the airport is in the control of the Dutch military at the moment to guarantee safety and security.
"We will move temporarily to the current FBO building from where we will process arriving passengers and use our baggage sortation area for processing of departing passengers once commercial flights resume. We expect about five flights daily when this happens. However, the airport already receives daily cargo deliveries via Amerijet and the Dutch, French and U.S. military, bringing in much-needed relief materials," Hyman said.
"I want to thank the airlines and all other stakeholders that use our airport for their commitment and continued support during these difficult times. I am convinced that together we will be back stronger and better, ready to offer passengers an experience that will move them to keep coming back."
Press Release from the Princess Juliana International Airport