Again, the Central Government has postponed the decision on how to make airfares affordable in the Caribbean Netherlands.
It was expected that the ‘exploration of the subject’ would be completed before the end of this year, but the results are still at least 2 years away. This is evident from the overview of state participations that the Minister of Finance Kaag sent to the Second Chamber today.
Previously, the Hartman Committee advised to consider air transport between the BES islands as ‘public transport’ and thus to make it affordable with government subsidies. The enthusiasm for this seems to be as low with Rutte IV as with Rutte III.
Saba and St Eustatius depend on the air connection with St Maarten for their accessibility. The Dutch state acquired 7.95% of the shares in Winair as of October 2010 in order to guarantee regular, reliable, safe, and cost-efficient accessibility of Saba and St Eustatius. Consequently, the Netherlands has the opportunity to monitor developments and to discuss matters relating to the sustainable connection to Saba and St Eustatius with the Board of Winair.
In 2021, Winair was the only airline that served all parts of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom and therefore has an important role in the connections.
In a letter dated 10 December 2021 to the Second Chamber, the then Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management announced that he had come to the conclusion that the shareholding in Winair is not seen as the best option for the future to guarantee the accessibility of Saba and St Eustatius in the best possible way. In the aforementioned letter to Parliament, it was indicated that the possibility of establishing a public service was being explored in order to eliminate the dependence of the market on these less profitable lines. It is expected that the exploration and elaboration of this instrument will take two years.
Winair has been active in the Caribbean for more than 60 years. Winair’s mission is to be a leading, viable, reliable, and profitable regional airline. Winair strives for the highest level of aviation safety and is constantly expanding and improving its services and services.
Looking ahead to 2022
COVID-19 challenges seem to be disappearing and the prospects for a short-term normalization of the level of service are positive. The entry restrictions are being drastically relaxed worldwide, and therefore also in the Caribbean, and the aviation industry is slowly but surely getting back on track. Winair’s turnover for the first two months of 2022 has increased by 80% compared to the first two months of 2021. The budget for 2022 shows a profit of approximately € 0.3 million.