In 2017, there were nearly 21 thousand aircraft movements to and from the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands, a 5 percent increase on the previous year. On Bonaire and St Eustatius, the number of movements rose by over 10 and over 7 percent respectively. Saba with the smallest airport of the Caribbean Netherlands recorded a decline by nearly 16 percent. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures.
Air traffic disruptions due to Hurricane Irma
The number of flights from and to Saba dropped as a result of Hurricane Irma passing in September 2017, for example. This caused many problems in the region: Saba’s airport was closed for one week and a half and regular air traffic operations were disrupted for weeks. In September 2017, 90 flights were operated to and from Saba, versus 260 in the same month one year previously.
On St Eustatius, air traffic came to a standstill for a short period as well and operations were temporarily disrupted, as a result of which the number of aircraft movements dropped slightly in September. After Hurricane Irma had passed, air traffic in Q4 2017 exceeded the level of the previous year again, with the number of movements rising by over 19 percent year-on-year.
Decline in passenger transport
Although air traffic increased in the Caribbean Netherlands, the volume of air traffic passengers dropped by over 6 percent in 2017. Compared to 2016, there were more flights carrying no or few passengers.
The sharpest decline in arriving and departing passengers was seen on Saba. In 2017, nearly 26.6 thousand passengers flew to and from the island, down by almost 13 percent on the previous year. Flamingo Airport on Bonaire recorded 323.1 thousand passenger movements, over 5 percent fewer than in 2016. Airplanes flying to and from St Eustatius carried 37.8 thousand passengers, a decrease of nearly 11 percent relative to 2016.
In 2017, passenger departures from Caribbean Netherlands’ airports dropped by 7 percent on the previous year; arrivals dropped by 6 percent. In total, the three airports welcomed 194 thousand passengers. At 193 thousand, there were slightly fewer departures. Over 162 thousand passengers arrived at Bonaire’s airport, which recorded 161 thousand departures. The airports of St Eustatius and Saba received 19 thousand and 13 thousand inbound tourists respectively. The number of travelers departing from these two smaller Caribbean airports stood at 19 thousand and 14 thousand respectively.