We will be here today and tomorrow
2018-08-22Airport Road, August 22, 2018 – With WINAIR’s 57th anniversary milestone falling on August 24th 2018, Winair’s management deemed it necessary to share with the public what the status of the company is today, especially in the aftermath almost one year ago of hurricanes Irma and Maria’s devastating effects to our region.
WINAIR was founded by Capt. Georges Emilien Greaux, Capt. Hypolite Faustin Ledee, and Mr. Norman Chester Wathey in 1961 and with its home base established at the Princess Juliana Int’l Airport. In 1976, WINAIR was acquired by the Netherlands Antilles to ensure that the vital air connectivity between St. Maarten, Saba and Statia was kept.
With the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on October 10th 2010, the ownership of WINAIR was transferred to Country St.Maarten with just over 92% interest in the company and to the Netherlands with just under 8%. An adhoc committee led by Mr. Michael Ferrier and supported by Mr. Roberto Gibbs, Mr. Jeroen Veen and Mr. Michael Cleaver, created the conditions to execute new statutes based on book 2 of the civil code followed with a new supervisory board of directors being established in July 2011. Mr. Georges Alain Greaux, became chairman of the supervisory board of directors and along with his fellow directors Robert Budike and Gerrit Draai (†2018) started with the daunting task of turning the company around by establishing a good management team and plan of action. With the mandate at hand to make the company viable again, Mr. Michael Cleaver, a seasoned airline executive was hired as CEO and President of the company, followed by Mr. Roberto Gibbs as CFO to complete the management board. By the first annual general meeting of shareholders in June 2012, all back logged financial statements were presented and by the end of 2012 WINAIR became profitable again.
This feat was made with no capital injection from either shareholders and is a true testament of the work that has been put into it by the employees and by having great management leadership to motivate and guide them. While the region has seen the collapse of many airlines such as ALM, DCA, DAE, BonairExel, Tiara, Cardinal, and lately PAWA, and some uncertainty with Insel Air, WINAIR has been able to grow and reinvent itself not only to survive the various airline industry conditions in the region but to achieve the success it enjoys today.
WINAIR is proud of its achievements post 2011 and the list is far to long for this press release and highlights of our accomplishments that have previously been released via the media. Some interesting facts are that WINAIR had close to 23,000 flights in 2016 and was well on its way to reach that number in 2017 and is the number one carrier in runway utilization and passenger movement at Princess Juliana Int’l Airport.
We continue to strive to give passengers the best service possible, on time performance, and most importantly a safe and enjoyable experience. Our maintenance program and flight training rivals that of larger carriers, something that we are proud of and is recognized by many airlines resulting in partnering with us on interline and code share agreements. Besides scheduled flights, WINAIR flies charters regularly and has throughout its history also provided medical evacuation services. In its 57 years existence, WINAIR has contributed tremendously in the developments of not only PJIA as a hub, but all regional destinations it has served as well.
The economic impact cannot be understated, and this includes the human resources from home base to all outstations through direct and indirect contributions to the respective economies. Recognizing these facts, WINAIR endeavors to work with all its destination stakeholders to find the right marketing tools to drive the business to and from these destinations and all its spin off effects such as taxis, hotels, rental cars, shopping, restaurants, etc. WINAIR will provide air connectivity to approximately 175,000 passengers thru SXM in 2018, generating hundreds of thousands if not millions of US Dollars in various sectors of the local St.Maarten economy. WINAIR is also proud of the assistance it provides schools, NGO’s, charitable organizations in St.Maarten and the region.
Post Hurricane IRMA and MARIA, WINAIR made painful adjustments in the immediate to its cost of operations and due to its 56-year-old headquarters being totally destroyed, found temporary facilities to mount its call center and administration. Our headquarters is expected to be completed in about 5 months with improvements to accommodate our customers better. The hangar was badly damaged but is now fully repaired and functional.
Once our aircraft returned to base immediately after IRMA, WINAIR operated 70 relief flights for the government of SXM and brought in relief supplies for its staff and other organizations. WINAIR also adapted itself to changing traffic patterns post IRMA to ensure it was able to successfully offer services of customers traveling to and from Antigua, San Juan, and St. Kitts due to limited services offered by Princes Juliana Int’l Airport. We also introduced services to Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, Santo Domingo and Haiti with our partner Air Antilles, and opened a sales and reservation office in Phillipsburg to ensure a point of contact was reestablished immediately after IRMA for our customers.
The changes made in both cost of operations and route to market were successfully implemented and had enough traction in the first half of 2018 for the company to turn over a profit. This positive side includes employee levels coming back to almost pre-Hurricane Irma level.
WINAIR has faced the possibility of bankruptcy in the past, so it remains our goal to maintain a healthy bottom-line instead of recklessly introducing below cost discounted promotional fares. With that healthy bottom-line, we’ve compiled the financial tools to look at new aircraft purchases as part of the reinvestments in the business in order to better serve our customers for the long term.
WINAIR’s ambition is to truly be a leader in the regional airline industry but also recognizes that forging alliances and partnerships with other strong regional airlines is a big plus in providing a superior network of connectivity at a lower cost to the traveling public. We are a founding member of the Caribsky Alliance along with Air Antilles and LIAT with the goal to establish this connectivity network with all the benefits of better options and fare structures on the menu for our customers.
Finally, we would be remiss if we did not thank our entire WINAIR team in St.Maarten and our teams and partners in our 16 destinations for their hard work in making WINAIR the success it enjoys today. Our commitment to provide safe and reliable air connectivity remains unchanged, and our customers can always be assured we will be here today and tomorrow. We also take the opportunity to thank you, our customer. We do not always get it right, but we do want to listen and fix it, because we care, and because we enjoy welcoming you back on board.