ST. EUSTATIUS–The board of Pension Fund Caribbean Netherlands (PCN) has decided, after a preparatory period of almost 18 months, to invest in the purchase of an aircraft for airline EZ-Air. With the loan to Bonaire-based Medicair NV, by means of PCN’s Participation Company Caribbean Netherlands (PMCN), two Beechcraft 1900D aircraft will shortly be purchased for regional flights, including flights from Bonaire to St. Eustatius.
In addition, the required working capital is also provided for the start-up of the EZ-Air operation, PCN stated. The aircraft in question were, until recently, used for flight operations on behalf of Air Canada Express.
The aircraft, with 19 seats each, will be used under the brand name EZ-Air for flights between Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao; for flights between Bonaire and Statia; and for flights to Colombia.
The aircraft have been specially selected for their ability to fly directly to various destinations within an acceptable time and with sufficient comfort. The Beechcraft planes have a pressurized cabin, and passengers can walk upright in the cabin due to the high construction of the machines. The relatively long distances, for example on the route between Bonaire and Statia, brought about several requirements for the aircraft, such as a toilet and reasonable baggage capacity.
Director of Medicair and EZ-Air Rene Winkel is very experienced in regional aviation. He previously flew as a captain for Winair and Antillean Airlines ALM. With Medicair, he has been carrying out ambulance flights between Bonaire and Colombia since 2000.
EZ-Air is not new to the islands either. In the past, Winkel has been executing flights between Bonaire and Curaçao for several years with two Britten-Norman aircraft.
PCN had various considerations to invest in EZ-Air. “First, it must be said that this is a solid business case,” says PCN chairman Harald Linkels. “Over the past few months, we have worked intensively with the EZ-Air team and together we have looked at the type of aircraft, the routes that can be served and the commercial plan. From the very start we noticed in a positive sense the solidity and the level of detail in the business plan,” says Linkels.
In addition, Linkels says PCN mainly wants to invest locally in matters that benefit the islands and residents. “Although it is regularly stated that aviation is a risky industry, it is also a fact that we as islands can’t do without aviation,” says Linkels.
The PCN chairman says it is extremely sour that every time the islands in the region pick the bitter fruits of the malaise in aviation in Curaçao. “As soon as something goes wrong there, as in the case of ALM, DCA, DAE and now Insel Air, this has dramatic consequences…People can’t leave the island, doctor visits have to be cancelled and doing business…in Curaçao or Aruba has become nearly impossible,” says Linkels. “It is also important for St. Eustatius to have a direct and reliable connection with Bonaire.
Winkel is also positive about the collaboration with PCN and PMCN. “We have always held constructive discussions with the board of PCN and they understood where we wanted to go with our plans.”
PCN will, as part of the agreement, name two persons in the Supervisory Board of EZ-Air, which will consist of three persons. As a result, PCN will be able to closely monitor the way in which EZ-Air is managed and will participate in important company decisions.
“On the PCN board we have Valdemar Marcha, who as former ALM director, has a huge experience in the field of aviation and airline management, says Linkels.
According to Linkels, PCN with its investment will help create a stable and solid company that will finally bring reliable and affordable flights to the islands.
The purchased airplanes cannot be put into service immediately. “The aircraft will soon be flown from Canada to Miami for the installation of some instruments necessary for the certification of the aircraft in Curaçao,” says Winkel.
EZ Air is currently still undergoing the certification process in Curaçao. Winkel says the airline gets “good cooperation” from Curaçao Civil Aviation Authority (CCAA).
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/77671-pcn-invests-in-airline-ez-air