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St. Maarten delegation at Routes World: SXM...your preferred hub!

PJIAE N.V. and St. Maarten Tourist Bureau delegates meeting with representatives of KLM Airline

PHILIPSBURG/LAS VEGAS - A delegation from St. Maarten attended Routes World in Las Vegas in the second week of October 2022. Routes World is the premier airlift and planning event. The delegation, a collaboration between the Princess Juliana International Airport and the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau, aimed to promote the destination of St. Maarten and restore the existing airline network of St. Maarten.

Bringing together a range of airlines, airports, and tourism authorities, including some of the largest carriers from North -, Central - and Latin America, Routes World offers the opportunity to meet face-to-face with some of the most influential aviation professionals from across the globe.

The St. Maarten delegation, during the 3-day conference, met with numerous airline network planners, including Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, KLM, British Airways, JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, Sun Country, LATAM, Avianca, Spirit Airlines, Breeze, and Flair Airlines, to discuss existing service, as well as new route opportunities.

Most of the airlines expressed that they are still in recovery mode since the pandemic, while still faced with crew shortages. The outlook, however, is positive, with increases and the possibility for new routes being explored for Winter 2023 - 2025. For the year 2022, St. Maarten visitor numbers are estimated to finish between 90-95% (recovery compared to 2019) since there are some down movements due to the crew shortages.

The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau, in its updates, stressed the important role it plays in supporting and attracting new airlifts, increasing seat capacity to the destination, and opening new markets. Some of the key marketing strategies for the destination remain the repositioning of the destination by targeting a more discerning and higher spending tourist, diversification of the market, further extending the high season, expounding on competitive and convenient airlift services which play a critical role in further developing existing source markets and the opening of new potential markets within the region and globally.

“We are very pleased with the meetings that were held with the airlines, as it has opened up communication with new potential ones, and also strengthened the existing ones for us to further develop our airlift to the destination and establish year- round visitors to St. Maarten” says Director of Tourism May-Ling Chun.

In addition, the delegation also met with other destination and airport representatives. “In the bigger picture our unique selling point is our product, as a hub, and the surrounding islands served by our national carrier, WINAIR” explained Brian Mingo, the airport’s CEO. “This we need to capitalize on, to attract more airlifts, yet keep it in the boutique segment.”

“Having a great airlift program will reassure a greater recovery for our future and help prepare us to reopen with excellence”, concluded Mingo.

About Princess Juliana International Airport

Princess Juliana International Airport is the second busiest airport in the Northeast Caribbean. It is an important airport hub for Saba, St Eustatius, St Barthelemy, Anguilla, Dominica, Nevis and Tortola. The airport is one of the largest employers on the island. It has 277 workers and an additional 1700 workers within the entire airport community. In 2022 the Sint Maarten airport expects to handle 1.2 million passengers and 54.000 aircraft movements. The reconstruction works of the airport have started in September 2021. By the end of 2022 the departure hall will be ready to use for passengers. In the summer of 2023, the new terminal will be finished. Contractor Ballast Nedam International Projects is actively seeking cooperation with local people and companies which is essential for socio-economic recovery of Sint Maarten.

Historic Timeline

Princess Juliana Airport was officially opened by Princess Juliana in 1944. In 2006 her Majesty Queen Beatrix inaugurated the new terminal building. In 2017 St.Maarten was hit by Hurricane Irma (Cat 5) and the airport’s terminal was heavily damaged. In January 2020 Princess Juliana International Airport signed the WorldBank/EIB loan to reconstruct the terminal. In July 2021 Ballast Nedam International Project was the main contractor selected for the reconstruction of the airport terminal.