The COVID-19 pandemic has and continues to affect all residents in the area. In these times of uncertainty, they are tasked with planning the path forward, ensuring health and well-being. Winair’s continued survival as a critically important business contributing to the economic engine of St. Maarten and the region must be maintained. Throughout this pandemic Winair is aware of its mission to facilitate assistance by performing repatriation flights and providing relief flights to bring needed supplies and essential personnel to assist St. Maarten with combating this pandemic. By repurposing Winair, they ensure the safety of their critically important employees, who are on the front lines in these endeavors.
Winair faced the reality of conforming to the evolving norm of post COVID-19 and continues to plan and coordinate a safe and responsible startup of operations for the continuation of its vital role in the post COVID-19 environment, by working together with stakeholders, company, country and the region, so that they can slowly return to some degree of normalcy. The focus on the restoration of social, cultural and economic relations remains priority in St. Maarten and the region.
The current shutdown of routes has resulted in a near total loss of all revenue, therefore it is most critical for Winair to assess itself financially in order to remain in existence post COVID-19. To meet these challenges the company has implemented many initiatives that are essential if it is to survive and assist with the ongoing success of St. Maarten. Conforming to this new reality Winair has implemented a 25% pay reduction (effective April 2020), this reduction of salary is across the board and includes the Supervisory and Executive Boards, management and staff. Additionally, bonuses and allowances to management and staff have been discontinued and were placed on mandatory two-week vacation immediately after cessation of our operations. The maintenance team is performing required future maintenance on Winair’s aircraft and equipment to avoiding more costly repairs at a later date.
In addition, Winair has renegotiated and/or reduced its handling costs in all 14 destinations they serve by 20-30%, redistributed the fuel costs and renegotiated aircraft leases and received discounts on key components on these leases. Winair is also currently in negotiations with the Princess Juliana airport to find the best solutions in these cash crunching times.
The company has applied for payroll support from the government of St. Maarten and has reached out to all destinations’ Tourist departments and Government authorities to coordinate cost reductions and discounts to Winair and its customers. Winair is currently working with all regional airports to achieve cost reductions for flights operated by the company. In other key areas, purchasing of goods and services has been limited to only those of absolute necessity during this period, and rental deferment of the sales facility on Walter Nisbett Road has been received. Winair will continue to seek ways to reduce operating costs for its limited restart when it is safe and prudent to do so.
Winair is grateful to its service providers, its customers, the St. Maarten Government and the Government of the Netherlands for their continued support, as well as the Board of Directors, the management and staff who carry this weight and continue to perform on the front lines. Moving forward Winair will proceed with enhanced safety protocols which remain i.e., enhanced aircraft sanitation (performed after every flight), providing personal protective equipment to ensure the safety of its employees and reengineering its facilities to conform with ongoing safety protocol. In short, many tasks have been accomplished, thanks and appreciation to all their partners and stakeholders who continue to work with Winair.