THE HAGUE–The Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament wants clarity as to why BES Air, a new airline initiative for the Caribbean Netherlands, so far hasn’t been allowed to start executing flights to St. Eustatius and Saba from St. Martin.
The Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations during its procedural meeting on Wednesday decided to ask State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops for a formal reaction to a letter that Jan Hesselink of BES Air sent to the committee in December last year.
Hesselink prepared a business plan for BES Air in 2007, on the request of St. Eustatius’ then-Island Governor Hyden Gittens. The argument for drafting a business plan was that Winair ticket prices were too high and the capacity was too limited.
Hesselink encountered a lot of bureaucracy from Dutch aviation authorities and the aviation law for the Caribbean Netherlands made it practically impossible to carry through with his plan. But he has found an alternative solution: partnering up with the Germany-based Air Alliance. BES Air would use Air Alliance’s airline operator certificate.
The plan is to fly on a daily basis from St. Martin’s Grand Case Airport to St. Eustatius, Saba, St. Kitts and St. Barths, using a Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft with 12 seats. A one-way ticket will cost around US $70. Flights would also be executed to Bonaire with a Dornier 328 aircraft with 31 seats. The plan is to build a hangar in St. Eustatius.
Hesselink said he could be operational in three to four months. However, to achieve that he needs the cooperation of the Dutch government to finance his operation. He lamented the attitude displayed so far by the Dutch ministries.
“All ministries say that better connections between the islands are high on the agenda, but when push comes to shove, they do nothing,” he told The Daily Herald on Friday. “When you want to start an airline in the Caribbean Netherlands, you first have to invest in aircraft and get them registered in the Netherlands. It is only after going through these motions that you might get a permit. That is the wrong order of doing things and makes it unworkable.”
According to Hesselink, there is most certainly a market for another regular airline besides Winair. The price and availability are factors in this. Currently, two other airlines besides Winair fly between the Windward Islands: Windward Express and SXM Airways which carry out charter flights.
Bron: Daily Herald