Major aviation conference opens with friendly reception

MAHO–The Caribbean Aviation Meetup will begin today, Tuesday, at the Sonesta Maho Convention Room. The opening reception was held at Sky Beach Bar in Maho on Monday evening.

According to organizers, the conference may be called the most significant and largest airlift conference ever held in the Caribbean. The numbers speak for themselves: 30 highly qualified professionals making 30 presentations spread over three days.

Conference participants are coming from 28 countries and territories: Anguilla, Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Commonwealth of Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Jamaica, Luxemburg, Nevis, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Saba, St. Barths, St. Eustatius, St. Lucia, St. Maarten/St. Martin, St. Vincent, Suriname, Switzerland, Trinidad, Turks and Caicos, United Kingdom (UK), United States (US), and US Virgin Islands.

Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher officially welcomed all delegations to the island and congratulated Carib-Avia Chairman Bud Slabbaert and his team for organising this very important and dynamic conference. Governor Eugene Holiday was present during the opening reception.

“There are very few conferences that can proudly boast that the focus of the conference is on experience exchange, interaction and participation, executed from a proactive platform. In other words, let’s get straight to the point and be solution-oriented. This is a winning formula and judging from the line-up of speakers over the next few days, there will be no shortage of face-to-face business discussions and comprehensive group opinion exchanges,” stated the Minister in her remarks.

“I would also like to congratulate and thank Michel Hyman and his team at Princess Juliana International Airport for recognising the importance of such a conference. The same goes for Mr. Rolando Brison and the dynamic team at the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau for supporting the conference.

“Your involvement is crucial considering some realities we can’t deny. Most of our guests arrive by air, so airlift naturally has an impact on airport performance and changes for improved airlift are needed in the Caribbean for improved impact on tourism and economy.

“So, in those contexts, it’s good to note the Airport’s and Tourist Bureau’s involvement and, I hope, active participation in the discussions.”

The Caribbean Aviation Meetup is designed by organizers to set itself apart from any other political summit or industry association meeting that emphasises one particular theme or subject only, be it airline routing, tourism sustainability, or a business sector. These meetings often miss an important point. If one focusses on one segment, but cannot bring it in perspective to other segments, then it becomes a matter of, popularly said, the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing. Problems do not get solved effectively; they may even become more complicated. Departmental thinking may have an isolating effect.

The conference itself is hosted by Princess Juliana International Airport SXM. During the Award Evening, the winner of the “Most Scenic Airport Landing in the World” contest will be celebrated. Four outstanding performances in Business Aviation will be honoured with a Sapphire Pegasus Award. A factory-new seaplane has been flown in from Wichita, Kansas, by the US aircraft manufacturer Cessna/Textron. The seaplane will be available for demonstrations and splash landings in St. Maarten, Anguilla and Nevis.

The potential future founding of a Caribbean Aviation Association or Caribbean Airlift Council will be discussed in informal meetings during the conference. An independent and impartial entity is considered desirable to provide professional expertise, coordination and mediation to solve dilemmas and streamline procedures, as well as for assistance in initiating and planning projects in the region. The entity may serve both the aviation and tourism industries, but also Government authorities.

Currently, 12 international aviation and travel journalists as well as a TV crew are accredited. They are coming from the US (4), Canada, UK, Spain, Switzerland, Barbados, St. Lucia and Trinidad. The conference will have a professional photographer on duty to support the media representatives. A videographer will cover the events and presentations of the conference. A selection of videos will become available on a YouTube channel of the Meetup.

The Cessna Caravan EX Seaplane, arrived on-island on Monday. The seaplane will be used for demonstration rides around St. Maarten and to Anguilla and Nevis, with the conference providing an opportunity to explore the feasibility of setting up operations in the region.

“Just arrived to St. Maarten aboard a Tropic Ocean Airways Caravan on floats. A great flight that set the stage for what’s shaping up to be a great Caribbean Aviation Meetup 2017,” said Rob Mark, an award-winning journalist who together with Tropic Ocean Airways Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Robert Ceravolo will host a presentation on “Seaplanes in the Caribbean; potential for airlift and as a tourism product.”

Mark arrived with two pilots, who flew the aircraft in from Miami, Florida, via San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the two-day trip.

The conference venue is Sonesta Maho Beach Resort. The conference will end on June 15. Further detailed information like speaker profiles, conference registration, hotel reservation, etc. can be found on the website .

Source: The Daily Herald