SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) – Vice President of the World Bank for Latin America and the Caribbean, Axel van Trotsenburg, is calling on all stakeholders involved in the restoration of the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) to step up the pace and have Airport reconstruction works completed sooner rather than later.
The visiting World Bank official has gone a step further by advising PJIAE management to work “triple shifts” if necessary, to ensure work is being carried out around the clock and also to ensure that personnel involved in that work are not being overworked.
The strong words of advice came on the opening day of a working visit to PJIAE last Thursday, at the invitation of PJIAE CEO, Mr. Brian Mingo. Also taking part in the airport visit, was the Honorable, Minister of TEATT, Mr. Stuart Johnson, the Managing Board of the Princess Juliana International Airport, Members of the National Recovery Program Bureau, the representative of St. Maarten to the Steering Committee of the World Bank Trust Fund, the Director of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and members of the Kingdom affairs (BZK)
Mr. Brian Mingo said Mr. Trotsenburg’s comments were heard loud and clear and fell perfectly in line with his own views and conviction and also that of his Managing Board. He said he has been pressing himself, from January this year, for the next phase of the airport restoration program to get under way once financing can be secured.
“We both recognize that the full return of PJIAE is very important to the economy of the island, not only in terms of airlift, but also as an indicator to the many investors waiting in the wings, that the island is fully recovered and fully operational once again,” said Mr. Mingo.
The Airport Chief said recent news that Dutch carrier KLM will be reinstating direct scheduled flights from Schiphol Airport to PJIAE, adds further weight to Mr. Trotenburg’s comments on the need to speed up the next phase of the restoration process, which is expected to begin in Q3, 2019.
“I am very happy to be hosting the visit of Mr. Trotsenburg and to get the opportunity to show him what we have done so far and how we intend to proceed in the coming weeks and months. I also recognize that he has not held back on his public comments about the need to step up the pace and get things moving,” said Mr. Mingo.
Mr. Mingo is also encouraged that even before his arrival at PJIAE, Mr. Trotsenburg has commented in the media about improvements in the restoration of the island generally since his last visit, providing him with encouragement that things are on the right track.
Mr. Mingo says the critical need to get the airport back up and running because of its role as the heartbeat of the economy is as clear as the need for the $100 Million loan being provided by the World Bank and European Investment Bank (EIB) for the second phase, or Package 2, of the restoration program.
The CEO, Mr. Mingo, says meantime, he will continue to look for ways to speed up the process to ensure the newly reconstructed Airport is unveiled in 2020, with the introduction of triple shifts if that is what it will take.
“Based only on the amazing work the Management Board has done immediately after Hurricane Irma and up to the present time I am confident we will be able to deliver a fully functional PJIAE within the target date of 2020, especially with the support of top officials like Mr. Trotsenburg who remain in our corner and continue to provide the kind of encouragement that he gives,” said Mr. Mingo.