Question: “How do we get on or off the island?” – Updated Sept 28

Update: More questions by Frances at the end of this post.

Hello, My name is Frances and my son is currently studying at the medical school.

I would dearly love to see his smiling face over Christmas. I was also going to book a visit to the island in February. Unfortunately with the destruction of Princess Juliana airport on St. Maarten and the halting of Winair flights and the destruction of your port after Maria I am at a loss as to how one would get on or off your island.

Apparently West Jet contacted an acquaintance of mine to cancel their November flight to St. Maarten and informed her they would probably not be returning to St. Maarten until April.

Can you forward my query to the appropriate islanders who may have answers to my question which restated is: “How do we get on or off the island?”

Thanks a ton!!

Frances

frances.harrington@yahoo.com

Some more questions from Frances:

Hello!
This is Frances again asking more questions regarding the recovery of your island’s economy.

I would imagine your island’s recovery will be based upon re-establishing transportation between the larger islands and your own little gem. I have yet to have the opportunity to visit so am unfamiliar with the infrastructure of the island.

Electricity was re-established very quickly and I understand this is because most of the electrical lines are underground and your communication towers survived both Irma and Maria. How do you generate that electricity? Is it diesel fuel? How are you getting supplied with that fuel?

Is the Dutch government sending military helicopters to bring in supplies? How are you keeping your stores stocked with food and other necessities? If you aren’t getting supplies what are all the residents eating?

Is there an island government council that is dedicated to the efforts of re-establishing travel arrangements to and from the island? If one exists is there any way the paper could publish updates on their progress or provide a website we could access to follow this progress?

How long do you think it will take to rebuild the port? How long to repair the airport?
Are there any residents who lost their homes?
Does the local council liaison with the school?
We wish your island a speedy recovery and know our thoughts and prayers are with you while you rebuild.
I would be most grateful to any of the residents who post responses to any of these questions!

Thanks again, Frances

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15 comments

  1. I heard that the boat Muttys Pride is still running.
    Regards, Chris

  2. Until Winair put on at least 2 flights a week the economy cannot recover – it is not just tourists it is next semesters students who will not be here and then there will be no rents coming in –

    If there is any relief money this should be used to run the flights and then the Government should make a formal complaint to the Dutch Government regarding Winair’s behaviour –

    This island recovered very quickly but without transport it will die very quickly. The excuse of the loss of the office in St Maarten is no reason not to run flights as a service.

    Christine Atkinson

  3. Hello,
    We are in the same situation as Frances. We are wondering how the students will get off the island for Christmas and where they should get connecting flights to Canada. We as well are planning to visit Saba in January.
    We would appreciate any information or updates you may have. Definitely a concern for all students and parents.
    To all Sabans, we hope and wish for the best during these trying times.
    Regards,
    Dina

  4. I wish to know as well since I hope to visit this coming winter.

  5. Hi concerned parents,
    I lived on Saba for 4 years and recently moved back to the US to go back to school for my masters (recently as in 3 days before Irma). My husband is still there while we do his immigration paperwork, and I was planning to visit in October. So far this is what I think is going on: many airlines are canceling flights, my Spirit Airlines flight for mid October was canceled. I believe this is because they do not think flying to St Maarten (SXM) will be profitable for a while. I have heard that they believe American Airlines will fly into SXM a couple times a week once they are able (as soon as possible- hopefully by mid/late October). I assume that once American is able to fly into SXM then Winair will start running flights.
    I’m not sure why they’re not able to currently operate from another island but i.m.o. I think the government should be either requiring them to 1) at least make a couple flights a week or 2) they should be putting down the full price of a charter flight and let people pay for tickets as they come, since it doesn’t seem Winair is running anything except for charters and Winair receives a subsidy.
    Bottom line is that nothing happens very quickly in Saba (or the Caribbean). It’s a general cultural “issue” that many expats face when moving to the island. Things will sort themselves out. I don’t think you should worry about your sons/daughters being able to come home for Christmas, or for you to visit in January/February. I believe things will be sorted by then. I recently saw a new report that a cruise ship plans to dock in SXM in November. I’m just wondering when I’ll get to see my husband again, as I left Saba thinking it would only be 6 weeks and now it’s looking I won’t be able to go (because of my own schedule) until the holidays.
    Hope this helps and reassures you some. We just have to sit right and hope for the best. The powers that be are working on it.

  6. If there are no tourists coming to SXM from the US or Canada there will be no domestic flights coming in or going out.

    That’s the sad reality and I don’t think it will be resolved by Christmas based on how ineffective the Sint Maarten government is and the arrogance on Winair

    I’ve been here for over a year and I don’t count on going home this Christmas at all

    • I think you’re wrong. I don’t think there will be as many flights as there were before but I think by Christmas they will have something in place. I guess we will see….

  7. My son as well is attending medical school. I contacted Air Canada and was informed that his flight to Canada out of SXM is still on in Dec. I’m not sure if they know something or are just optimistic that St. Maarten will be up and running by then. Know that other airlines have cancelled flights at Christmas. As prices will continue to increase the closer that we get to Christmas, it would certainly be great to get a handle on what is happening on both islands in the very near future. No one can seem to give us an answer to what many may think are trivial questions but to students and parents are very important ones.
    Praying for a quick and speedy recovery to all the islands affected.

  8. Good afternoon!!!!

    My story is not nearly as important as others but I am scheduled to spend my honeymoon on Saba; I am trying desperately to figure out how to get there because I really want to visit Saba. Dose anyone know how to get on the island? I am currently supposed to arrive on October 7th.

    • Check with BRIAN JOHNSON, you can find him on FB. He is our WIN AIR rep on Saba. I am hearing that via St Kitt’s, there are WIN AIR flights landing on Saba. Not sure WHEN that is all happening, but try Brian

      • Sameera Younas Qureshi

        Hello everyone
        Reading all of the above comments I couldnt stop myself from telling my story.
        Me and my Husband went to Saba on 4th of september to drop off our daughter in first semester medical school from Toronto Canada. We r both doctors and my husvand works as ER physician in Summerside Prince Edward Island Canada.
        Irma struck the night of 5th and 6th and we were on Saba. Most terrifying experience of our lives but thankfully we made it though much shaken and disturbed . But thankful that at least we were all togther especilly our daughter had us and was not alone.
        But what followed was a complete nightmare. Although there wasn’t much structural damage the first semester dorms had leaks and a few other issues.
        Electricity was restored the next day quite effectively as they have underground cables.
        The supermarkets started running out of water and fresh produce was nowhere to be seen. We tried to stay calm and make the most of everything.
        Classes were cancelled for the rest of the week. All flights and ferry service were cancelled. We were not sure how to get off the Island. We were a group of 4 parents all facing the same situation in a place and system that was very new to us. We turned to the University staff , associate deans and talked to them on various occasions. They were nice , polite and understood our situation.
        Me and my husband were booked with Winair to fly to St Marten and then to Toronto Canada on 12th September but could clearly see that that was not going to happen.
        We kept on asking and inquiring the local island people about our options for a safe passage off Saba and called Winair several times but they were not taking any calls or receiving any emails.
        At times we felt very frustrated. The classes resumed and the University staff said that there was an option of chartering a Winair plane from St kitts to saba and back to st kitts for $3000. We were quite shocked to hear that as we were only 5 people at that time and would have to pay about 600 / head.Funds were a problem also as initially there was no money in 2 banks on Saba.
        The university was able to get in touch with more people who wanted to go off the Island so in the end we were about 11 or 12 and had to pay 300 / head to go to st kitts and were able to fly standby with our American Airlines flights on Saturday the 16th of September.
        Clearly Winair is making enough money on charter flights so why should it resume its scheduled flights.
        I noticed everyone is a bit greedy in that part of the world and in the end its all about money snatching.

    • Good Afternoon Everyone:

      I have been making some progress today and as of right now the airport on Saint Martin is scheduled to open for commercial flights on October 1st. (At least for American Airlines)

      The Edge ferry is working on starting a once weekly ferry soon; but no dates yet. They said they would have more information on Monday.

      The Dawn II Ferry took some damage and they said it wont not be operational until October 16th at the earliest.

      If anyone has more information please let me know.

  9. I live and work on Saba. I realize that as parents you all have concerns but let’s get real. we have just been through two devastating hurricanes, the northern Caribbean chain has been decimated, many people lost their homes here, we are worried about a supply boat arriving in the next couple weeks to provide food and water, wondering when a boat will arrive with building supplies so people can start to rebuild their lives, and you are all worried about whether your kids are gonna make it home for christmas!!!!! Because we are a small island, we do have services up and running in record time. We take care of each other here. Yes we are dependent on the outside world for most of our goods particularly now that the working farms that supply us locally with fresh veg have to start from bare dirt, so please take several giant steps back and let the powers that be take care of things. Things do go slowly here. Rerouting planes that are dealing with international regulations does take time. This is hurricane season and you chose to put your children on this island. Just because we haven’t had a hurricane this bad in years doesn’t negate the possibility of it happening every year. Count your blessings that your kids are safe, do what we do here, be patient, it will all work out.

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