THE HAGUE–The Dutch government is looking at the possibility of sending mail for St. Eustatius and Saba directly to St. Maarten.
Dutch State Secretary of Economic Affairs and Climate Mona Keijzer stated this in a letter to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament earlier this week in response to a letter from former Democratic Party St. Eustatius Councilman Koos Sneek.
Sneek pointed out in his letter that it took an extremely long time for mail to arrive from the Netherlands and that the quality of mail delivery between the islands and the rest of the world was poor. The Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations asked Keijzer for a response.
She explained that the Consumer and Market Authority ACM was planning new measurements in 2019 to see how long it takes mail to reach the islands. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate EZK will be sending a number of test mail packages to the islands, whereby the logistic process will be monitored. “This may result in specific information on where the bottlenecks are,” stated Keijzer.
An analysis carried out by the EZK Ministry showed that the delay in the handling of mail happens after Royal Dutch Airlines KLM has transported the mail from Amsterdam to Bonaire. KLM flies to Bonaire four times a week. All mail for the Caribbean Netherlands, including for St. Eustatius and Saba, is transported to Bonaire in single bundle.
In Bonaire, the mail is handed to the postal courier service for the Caribbean Netherlands, FXDC. The mail for St. Eustatius and Saba goes to the islands via St. Maarten. The lack of direct flights between Bonaire and St. Eustatius and Saba is a delaying factor. Another such factor is the limited capacity for transport of goods between the Windward Islands.
Caribbean Netherlands CN Express, a chartered flight between Bonaire and St. Eustatius, did have a positive effect on the speed of postal delivery. However, that was a temporary, subsidised air connection, Keijzer noted.
She explained that FXDC is currently negotiating a contract with another airline that can take the mail from Bonaire to the Windward Islands. For now, FXDC has a contract with Winair for the transportation of mail. “However, these flights are primarily for passenger transport, and therefore they have a limited capacity.”
A second possible solution currently under consideration, together with the Dutch postal services Post NL, FXDC, Postal Services St. Maarten and Winair, is the option of splitting the mail for the three Caribbean Netherlands islands in Amsterdam.
“This means that the mail for Saba and St. Eustatius would be sent directly from the Netherlands to St. Maarten, and from there on to the two islands, instead of first via Bonaire to St. Maarten. We will look into the amount of time that is saved, what the logistical requirements are, and whether this is worth the cost considering the very limited amount of mail that is involved,” Keijzer said.
The results will be known after the summer.