Continued Insel Air travel ban for Dutch civil servants

THE HAGUE–The ban for Dutch civil servants to fly on Insel Air will remain in effect until the safety at the airline has been secured, Dutch State Secretary of Infrastructure and Environment Sharon Dijksma informed the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday.

The travel ban, which was instituted early February 2017 by Dijksma and Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk, will remain until the Dutch Inspectorate for the Human Environment and Transport ILT gives the green light that the safety at Insel Air has been well secured.

The Ministries of Infrastructure I&M and of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK “received signals about the aviation safety of Insel Air” in December 2016, Dijksma stated in a separate letter to the Second Chamber on Tuesday in response to written questions submitted by Members of Parliament (MPs) Alexander Pechtold and Salima Belhaj of the Democratic Party D66.

This information mainly came from the Royal Dutch Airlines KLM which suspended the code-share agreement with Insel Air mid-November 2016 due to “operational problems” at Insel Air, explained Dijksma.

After receiving “concrete information” about the safety of Insel Air mid-December, the State Secretary decided early January 2017 to request more information from the Curaçao Government. “I also asked for concrete information in order to better judge the safety situation” Mid-January she received a reply from Willemstad. However, this reply didn’t take away her concerns, she stated.

Around the same time in January the ILT carried out inspections of Insel Air aircraft in Bonaire as part of the Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA) Programme. During previous inspections, the ILT had also found shortcomings where it pertained to the aircraft of Insel Air, but these were not of such urgent nature that it posed an immediate threat to aviation safety, according to Dijksma.

“However, such inspections don’t give a complete view of the total safety situation. In that same period, the Aruba Department of Civil Aviation DCA issued a flight ban for all aircraft of Insel Air Aruba,” stated Dijksma in response to the questions of Pechtold and Belhaj.

Regarding the travel ban for Dutch civil servants, the State Secretary explained that this concerned a “precautionary measure” which was considered to fit the authorities of the Dutch Government and the limited available information.

The letter to the Dutch Parliament on February 3 was widely announced through press releases and on the Dutch Government website. “In this manner, a clear signal was issued to the other passengers about the safety situation at Insel Air International BV,” stated Dijksma.

Pechtold and Belhaj had also asked about the possible measures to prevent that a collapse would have a detrimental effect on the accessibility of all Dutch Caribbean islands. Dijksma emphasized that the Curaçao Government was primarily responsible for Insel Air International BV and that Willemstad had taken action to “increase the viability” of the airline.

The State Secretary mentioned the establishing of an expert group that will analyse the securing of the connectivity between the islands. All countries of the Kingdom will take part in this expert group. Also, Dutch expertise will be made available to support the authorities in Aruba and Curaçao to carry out their supervision on Insel Air.

Dijksma informed the Second Chamber that the safety risks were currently too high, and that the supervision executed by the civil aviation authorities in Aruba and Curaçao had been unable to prevent this situation. It has been agreed that the ILT will be assisting local aviation authorities in carrying out this supervision.

Source: The Daily Herald