Once and for all

Once and for all

Uncertainty is again rising about what has been happening at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA). As it now turns out (see related story) Royal Schiphol Group wrote to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmila de Weever expressing serious concern about compliance with corporate governance rules surrounding the dismissal of operating company PJIAE CEO Brian Mingo.

The letter is dated April 9, two days after the holding company PJIAH sent Mingo home at a shareholder’s meeting. The involvement of Schiphol Group was a condition for US $100 million in financing to rebuild the hurricane-damaged facility, provided half each from St. Maarten’s Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund administered by the World Bank and via the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Interestingly, officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK in The Hague met with members of PJIAH’s management and supervisory board on April 8 to discuss the cooperation agreement between PJIAH, PJIAE, BZK and Royal Schiphol Group expiring on August 1. That apparently did not stop the latter from sounding the alarm with government as sole shareholder of the airport the very next day.

Under these circumstances there is a need to reassure the public and relevant stakeholders including airlines and other hospitality industry partners regarding the island’s main gateway and its reconstruction project, which has become even more urgent due to the impact of the coronavirus-related crisis on the local tourism economy. Make no mistake, this is about people’s livelihoods, so after waiting more than 3½ years they just want to see the job done, once and for all.