Members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Jorien Wuite and Kiki Hagen, both of the Democratic Party D66, have sought clarity on the status of execution of the Caribbean Netherlands connectivity report.
The Members of Parliament (MPs) on Friday sent a series of questions to caretaker Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuizen about the connectivity report, which was drafted by an expert group, headed by former Royal Dutch Airlines KLM President Peter Hartman. The report in question was drafted two years ago after extensive consultations on and with the islands, but its recommendations have not been carried out as yet. The recommendations were aimed at affordable ticket prices on flights between the islands, and at creating a more stable situation for Caribbean aviation.
One of the recommendations was to subsidise the ticket prices up to 50 per cent for residents of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The residents of these islands are very dependent on surrounding islands like St. Maarten and Curacao for medical and other services, and ticket prices between the islands are very costly, or there are not enough flights.
The MPs asked the minister whether she agreed that good connectivity of the Caribbean Netherlands was of great public importance. “How do you view the conclusion of the Hartman Committee that a number of routes between the Caribbean Netherlands are so called ‘thin routes,’ whereby commercial airlines cannot always guarantee sufficient connectivity?”
Wuite and Hagen wanted to know whether the minister agreed that the Dutch government has a role to maintain connectivity if the market parties didn’t manage to do so. They asked Van Nieuwenhuizen to explain what exactly has been done with the committee’s recommendations.
The MPs further enquired about the recent request of Windward Islands Airways International Winair for a second loan to keep its head above water during the pandemic. “Can you share the latest state of affairs with regard to the submitted support request of Winair?” Wuite and Hagen referred to the announced evaluation of the participation of the Dutch government, which has close to eight per cent of Winair’s shares, and asked when this evaluation in light of better connectivity would be completed. “Can you pledge to conclude this evaluation at least before possible new financial support is discussed?”
Connectivity is more than just aviation, and as such the MPs also asked about the status of ferry services between St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius, and between Bonaire and Curacao. “Can you share the latest state of affairs with regard to the tendering trajectory for the ferry services?”
In addition, Wuite and Hagen enquired about the deployment of other airlines such as EZ Air and SXM Airways to maintain and improve connectivity by air.
The Daily Herald.