Winair aircraft landing in Curaçao on Monday, November 23. (Larry Every photo)
ST. EUSTATIUS–The news that Windward Islands Airways International Winair and National Department Caribbean RCN had signed an agreement to introduce a connecting flight between St. Eustatius and Bonaire starting December 1, 2020, has been met with mixed feelings. Some people in Statia are happy while others are sceptical about the new connection.
The only direct air link between Statia and Bonaire in the past years was maintained by airline EZ Air with medical flights on behalf of health insurance office ZVK with connections to Curaçao and Aruba that were introduced after Hurricane Irma.
ZVK flights from Saba and Statia to St. Maarten are being handled by SXM Airways and the medical helicopter also flies patients from Saba.
An attempt to establish a direct airlink between the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands called Caribbean Netherlands (CN) Express was made in February 2018. However, the direct link was not successful and was subsequently discontinued. CN Express was operated by Winair and established jointly by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management I&W.
Island Councilman Clyde van Putten said the air connection between Statia and Bonaire was a “very good” idea. “The only thing is, it should have been for the entire Leeward Islands.”
Councilman Koos Sneek stated that the connection should not be a temporary occurrence and hoped that it would be permanent and flying more times per week. “I would have preferred to at least also include EZ Air. Winair already has a monopoly.” He said that Winair had failed the former direct links between Bonaire, Statia and Saba and wondered why the fare for the flight was not mentioned. Winair currently operates one weekly flight to Statia, on Friday.
Quite a few people are wondering what the price will be for the new connection with Bonaire.
One person had concerns about the flight due to the coronavirus pandemic and the way in which Bonaire is handling the spread of the virus.
Some people hope to see more airlines introduced to Statia to make the island’s economy grow, while others wondered why only Winair had obtained this deal and other airlines were not included to avoid creating a monopoly.