~ Preparing for increase of flights ~
AIRPORT–The Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) managing board plans to move the airport’s departure and arrival operations temporarily into the ground floor of the current terminal building by November.
“The operational activities will be carried out from the former baggage claim through the B-Gates area at the original terminal building of the airport. The project is dubbed Phase 1 – Temporary Operations Facility and is still in the tender process, as the expression of interest is already in progress for the construction,” according to the airport managing board on Monday.
Currently the operations have the arrival and departure pavilions on the airside of the airport. Departing passengers access the pavilions between the bus holding and the employee parking lot.
“It is quite a giant step forward by moving back into the terminal building,” said Chief of Operations (COO) Michel Hyman in the statement. The managing board consists of Hyman and first Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Ravi Daryanani, who is also the Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the airport. The project has the full support of the current PJIA supervisory board.
The departure pavilion went into operation on February 9, while the arrival pavilion was opened on March 23. The departure pavilion has 18 check-in counters, seven gates and 10 food-and-beverage and retail concessions. The arrival pavilion houses the Customs and Immigration Departments, and currently serves as the baggage claim area.
The departure pavilion currently holds a total of 325 seats, while the transfer into the temporary operations facility will provide 800 to 1,000 seats for passengers. There will be 32 airline check-in positions that will include luggage scales.
“There will be an increase of flights with the US carriers. Canadian carrier WestJet plans to also add a second flight by November 1, 2018, and there are also ongoing talks with other Canadian carriers,” stated PJIA managing board.
The airport also announced that the total long-haul airline flight frequency from the United States, Canada, Europe and Latin America to St. Maarten is increasing in the peak winter season of 2018-2019 at a pace consistent with the St. Maarten room inventory recovery after the hurricanes of 2017.
The number of flights from these tourist markets in January 2019 will be at 69 per cent of what it was in January 2017, while St. Maarten’s room inventory will be at 54 per cent of what it was in January 2017, while the 2019 flight frequency level apparently exceeds that of the St. Maarten room inventory compared to January 2017.
“The fact that 35 per cent of passengers arriving on long-haul flights are actually making hub connections to St. Barths or Anguilla means that there is good synchronisation of flights with places for visitors to stay, when they fly through PJIA. Some of the hub islands are seeing their room inventory recovering at a faster rate than that of St. Maarten, as some of them were not damaged at all after the hurricanes; thus, room accommodation for future flights is not an issue,” concluded the airport Monday.