ORANJESTAD – On November 7, 2022, the historic milestone of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Dutch Caribbean islands, the Netherlands, the six airports of the Dutch Caribbean, and the Dutch Association of Airports was celebrated. This MOU formalizes a commitment of this partnership to explore and establish affordable, efficient, and sustainable air connectivity between Curacao, Aruba, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba and, more specifically, to explore and stimulate the use of emission-free powered flights to operate the aforementioned air connectivity.
DCCA Task Force
As agreed in the MOU, all CEO’s of the DCCA (Dutch Cooperation of Caribbean Airports) recently determined the constellation of the Task Force. This Task Force will be tasked with developing a Joint Strategic Plan (JSP) for improving interisland connectivity.
The Task Force will include aviation experts and professionals with at its core Mrs. Marieke Smit (Royal Schiphol Group) as Program Manager, Mrs. Suzy Kartokromo (St. Maarten Airport) as assistant Program Manager, Mrs. Jo-Anne Meaux-Arends (Aruba Airport) and Mrs. Peggy Croes (Curacao Airport), both for business development, Mrs. Christine Driessen (Bonaire Airport) for airport infrastructure/charging stations and standards, and Mr.Vishal Oedjaghir (St Eustatius Airport/Saba Airport) as PSO expert. As such all islands of the Dutch Kingdom are duly represented and will be working on reaching the end goal of the MOU signed back in November of 2022.
Task Force deliverables
Before the end of 2023, this Task Force will deliver a Joint Strategic Plan with, besides a clear indication of how to reach the end goal of a more affordable, efficient, and sustainable interisland connectivity network with a concrete timeline and milestones, the following deliverables:
- The feasibility and establishment of an interisland innovation center for sustainable aviation, to stimulate and facilitate the use of zero-emission powered flights for air connectivity between these islands;
- Possibilities means and measures to achieve a smooth, seamless, and efficient flow of passengers on interisland flights at the airports of the CAS and BES islands, including easing the entry/exit requirements by use of biometrics and digital identification technological advancements or otherwise;
- Recommendations on necessary changes of laws, regulations, and policy pertaining to the end goal;
- Recommendations on how to make interisland travel more affordable for the public.
The progress of the Task Force will be overseen by a Progress Committee, which will consist of the Kingdom Countries Aviation Steering Group (‘Regiegroep Luchtvaart voor de Koninkrijkslanden’) and the CEO’s of the DCCA airports. The Dutch Civil Airports Association (‘Nederlandse Vereniging van Luchthavens’) will also appoint a representative in the Progress Committee.
Joost Meijs, CEO of Aruba Airport Authority N.V. and chairman of the DCCA: “It is great to see that collectively we have been able to define a strong Task Force with aviation professionals from the Caribbean and international world. I am convinced that together and with the support of all islands and countries of the Dutch Kingdom we will improve the interisland connectivity in all aspects”.
About the DCCA
The Dutch Caribbean Cooperation of Airports (DCCA) is a cooperation between all six Caribbean Airports within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. DCCA’s objective is to improve the general quality of each individual airport by facilitating mutual assistance and efficient exchange of information, transfer of knowledge and sharing of expertise with the goal of achieving economies of scale. DCCA aims to present future-focused alternative air transportation options to improve interisland connectivity between the Dutch Caribbean Islands.
I have lived on Saba over thirty years and before that SXM. The SXM airport has been a very expensive hub for most of that time. It has teetered between inefficient and criminal with its use of Dutch finances. Winair has continually raised its prices and lowered its service to the smaller Dutch islands. Another task force? dozens and dozens of times people living on Saba have heard that the government is going to LOOK INTO IT! I am sure the task force will have a splendid time talking flight plans with each other and visiting each others islands. All we ask for is the same service that we had thirty years ago and reasonable prices for a 12 minute flight. I am very surprised government appears confused about the horrific drop in tourism over the years. There is lots off competition. In addition, local people here are far from rich. We wait for less stories and more results.
Well said Ms. Chambers.