GREAT BAY—Minister of Tourism Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher and a small delegation from St. Maarten recently met with Fort Lauderdale city representatives and airport officials to continue discussions on opening that city as the islands next big US hub.
The Minister has targeted Fort Lauderdale since starting her tenure in January and has continued efforts to finalize airlift out of the city, particularly from JetBlue and Southwest Airlines.
The Minister and her team were given a tour of Fort Lauderdale’s new international terminal for Southwest, built by Southwest, as well as the international hall out of which JetBlue operates.
The tour was guided by airport officials as well as Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness who welcomed the Minister and had informal discussions about a future business relationship between St. Maarten and Fort Lauderdale.
“We have New York and Miami as our two major US hubs and of course we have been looking to add another gateway with great connecting options,” the minister said.
“There is a key aspect that many people don’t consider when they hear about government trying to lock down a new gateway. We have to look at combining demand for destinations and regular flights. Passengers will be able to access different airlines to multiple destinations around the world.
So it’s not just about getting from St. Maarten to Fort Lauderdale and back, its the connecting options it adds for us as well. In this context Fort Lauderdale has the potential to be a major US hub for us,” the Minister explained.
Broward County’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) serves the needs of 29.2 million passengers and the general aviation community throughout South Florida.
FLL is ranked 21st in the U.S. in total passenger traffic and 13th in domestic origin and destination passengers. There are more than 325 departure and 325 arrival flights a day. FLL offers nonstop service to 140 U.S. cities and flights to Canada, Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America, and Europe. FLL averages 640 commercial flights per day on 26 airlines. There are also 100 private flights. Each day an average of 80,000 travelers pass through the four terminals at FLL.
The Minister said discussions will continue with both airlines and Fort Lauderdale.
Photo Caption: From left: Head of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau Rolando Brison, Policy Advisor in the Minister’s Cabinet Julian Lake, Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness, Minister Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher, the Minister’s Chief of Cabinet Cecil Nicholas and a representative of the Fort Lauderdale Airport.