THE HAGUE–Members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament of the Christian Democratic Party CDA Charis van Dam and Mustafa Amhaouch want clarity on the US $3-million mortgage loan to Windward Islands Airways International Winair.
The Members of Parliament (MPs) on Wednesday submitted a series of written questions to State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops and Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuizen.
“Are the financial problems at Winair solely caused by the corona crisis? Has a business analysis been done as to the causes?” The MPs wanted to know whether the fact that the Dutch government owns close to eight per cent of the Winair shares had played a role in the decision to give the airline a loan. They also asked what conditions were attached to the loan to improve an affordable air connection with St. Eustatius and Saba.
Van Dam and Amhaouch asked if it was correct that the St. Eustatius-Bonaire route was reopened with financial support of the Dutch government, also carried out by Winair. “Is it correct that the Dutch government has had to guarantee a considerable number of seats on this route?”
They enquired whether it was correct that around the same time the route St. Maarten-Curaçao-Bonaire was restarted by Winair, and whether these routes were competing with each other, risking the fact that neither of the two routes ends up being self-sustainable.
“Which other airlines provide connections between the Caribbean parts of the kingdom? Was the guaranteeing of connections between St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba not a good opportunity to strengthen diversity and competition in aviation in the interest of better consumer prices?”
The MPs asked about the financial situation of other Dutch Caribbean airlines and wondered whether these airlines were also receiving financial support from the Dutch government. In this regard, they referred to a recent analysis of the Curaçao newspaper Antilliaans Dagblad which stated that Winair was receiving US $1 million financial support per aircraft.
The newspaper noted that with three Twin Otters the loan involved a considerable amount per aircraft and per seat, and that it was better to find a structural, integral solution for the connectivity between the islands than to just issue a loan to one small airline.
In addressing the connectivity, Van Dam and Amhaouch asked about the status of executing the recommendations of the Expert Group Connectivity which advised to treat the air connections between the islands as public transport and as such to subsidise the routes.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/cda-mps-enquire-about-winair-loan