Proving them wrong

Proving them wrong

The agreement between Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) operating company PJIAE N.V. with WICSU/PSU on settling due payments to employees reported on last Tuesday’s front page is important. To be sure, it took three years of failed attempts with periodic tensions including court cases, while negotiations with the other union representing airport personnel ABVO had not yet been completed.
Nevertheless, preventing any more labour unrest at the island’s main gateway will be very much needed going forward. A newly reconstructed and optimally functioning terminal is key to the continued tourism recovery on which the socioeconomic wellbeing of the entire population ultimately depends.
Looking at figures mentioned earlier regarding the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and pending payments involved one would have to say both seem modest enough and certainly not unreasonable, despite the impacts of Hurricane Irma and the COVID-19 crisis on the government-owned company’s operational finances. Although their strike affected various flights and was then forbidden by a judge, the air traffic controllers –known to do great a job under difficult circumstances with limited resources at a relatively small but at times busy airport – could still count on some public sympathy.
All noses must now be pointed firmly in the same direction because St. Maarten’s recovery remains vulnerable as again pointed out by the International Monetary Fund (see related story). Ironically, its report mentions “disappointing investment execution especially for the airport.”
Be that as it may, destination SXM will have to compete strongly in months to come for both flights and visitors, with early signs that the post-pandemic wave of pent-up travel demand has begun tapering off. This is about offering a good product as well as effectively promoting and marketing such.
When people hear about things like British Airways providing service to Aruba and Curaçao arranging charters from Ecuador, they might wonder whether the local hospitality industry has not become too comfortable or perhaps even complacent. Proving them wrong is everybody’s business.

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