MPs express concern about airport’s financial status | THE DAILY HERALD

PHILIPSBURG–The Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) board and management, and Tourism Minister Cornelius de Weever were summoned to the House of Parliament to give an update on the status of PJIA’s reconstruction and financial health. Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ravi Daryanani gave Members of Parliament (MPs) an outline of the airport’s plans and future goals.

PJIA is focused on major hurricane resilience, energy efficiency and cost savings, state-of-the-art systems, and improved security and operational process flows as it continues its rebuilding efforts post-Hurricane Irma. Initial reconstruction of its terminal building is expected to be completed by the end of September.
The repair of the main building’s roof was the first phase and has been completed, while waterproofing will commence around the end of June. Daryanani told Parliament that contractors will then work on mould remediation in the building and this will last 4-6 weeks.
After the waterproofing takes place, the contractor will also have to work on building a new roof designed to withstand 180-miles-per-hour winds. The airport expects this to be completed by the end of September.
The terminal building reconstruction plans will also feature expanded space that will accommodate the proposed US Pre-Clearance for which the management team intends to add new non-stop routes between the Southern Caribbean and St. Maarten as well as more flight frequencies on the USA-St. Maarten routes.
“Vital systems are currently being installed around the airport, as equipment was ordered several months ago. State-of-the-art systems are being installed and we hope to get the funding for properly rebuilding our terminal building. Flights are increasing and the airport is on track to accommodating these extra visitors for the next two years,” Daryanani said.
He hopes the terminal building will be fully operational by 2020.
As far as the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season is concerned, the airport has several components in place. The operational department will carry out an inspection and a review of their contact list, supplies and communication system; identify command post locations; hold regular meetings with stakeholders; and monitor weather updates while adjusting their plan if there is a need to do so.

While the case is in litigation, Daryanani said PJIA has filed a court case against NAGICO’s refusal to swiftly assess and honour in full the airport’s multi-million-dollar insurance claim.
The damage inflicted on the airport by Irma is insured under the airport’s commercial “all risks” policy and its business interruption extension, both with NAGICO. The total sum insured under the policies is US $193,359,223.27 for 26 insured items, of which $29.5 million is for business interruption.
“The airport was insured by NAGICO for close to 20 years and payments were made every year consistently. NAGICO is offering US $37 million dollars while the airport would settle for US $143 million. The difference is out of reach and therefore we decided to bring this matter to court,” he said.
MPs requested clarity about the reconstruction and hoped that the airport does not have to go through the World Bank for assistance. National Alliance MP Christophe Emmanuel said the red tape the airport would have to go through to access the funds would take too much time. He also suggested the possibility of a local bank loan.
MP Rolando Brison asked the airport management if they are aware of the developments at the Grand Case Airport. When the runway extension is finished in 2020, it will permit larger aircraft to use the airport. Brison said the short runway puts a limit of 50 passengers on flights. With the extension done that will increase to 24 more passengers.
“Business is business and I do hope that the airport is aware of the developments taking place, as aviation circles have already been saying that the business climate on the Northern side is better than the Southern side,” he said.
The meeting was adjourned for two weeks and airport management assured MPs that they would receive the answers to their questions in writing before returning for the continuation of the meeting.

Source: The Daily Herald