After Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Saba and St. Eustatius developed an urgency for air transportation to revive the tourism sector, for medical referrals and work-related traffic. Due to financial constraints Windward Islands Airways International Winair, however, stepped out of the agreement with Caribbean Netherlands CN-Express to establish direct flight connections between Bonaire, Statia and Saba.
This connection between the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands would originally become operational early January.
Winair’s facilities in St. Maarten were completely destroyed by Irma, causing the need for a new facility to enable Winair to firstly serve its customers by opening a new sales and reservations office on Nisbeth Road in Philipsburg.
In addition, Winair leased the second floor of this building for its Accounting and Human Resources Departments to operate.
“Customer and vendors reception has truly been positive”, stated Winair’s Chief Executive Officer and President Michael D. Cleaver to online news outlet Caribisch Netwerk.
The launch of CN-Express experienced delays due to financial and operational issues. Although there initially was a principle agreement between parties, Winair backed out, which made it impossible to launch the air connection.
Unfortunately, and despite the best efforts of Winair and its partners in The Hague, they were unable to achieve a workable plan to accommodate and facilitate the CN Express operation, according to Winair.
Their current operational and financial situation post Irma/ Maria precludes Winair from taking avoidable risks at this time, it was stated. The ministries involved are currently looking into possible other solutions.
The Daily Herald.