The KLM Airbus that got stuck at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) a week earlier was still parked there Sunday afternoon. Those of its 259 passengers who did not opt for other flight route alternatives finally left Thursday on a replacement plane sent to pick them up.

This was no doubt an inconvenience, but many non-residents in the group also expressed joy about staying on the island a bit longer at the airline’s expense. Accommodating them an extra four nights was reportedly not without challenges during the height of the busy season and St. Maarten Heineken Regatta week.

Some ended up as far as Secrets Resort in Anse Marcel, but important is that rooms were ultimately provided for visitors who needed it. Unexpected issues can always occur and especially in aviation safety is paramount, so making the nuisance for impacted passengers and crews as bearable as possible becomes a concern for not just the responsible carrier.

At times like this, cooperation in the local hospitality industry proves its worth in quickly finding and arranging space to comfortably house guests stranded through, after all, no fault of their own. Destinations able to do so earn the respect of stakeholders involved and others.

That reputation also helps to promote more homeporting by large cruise ships. It’s potentially a logistics nightmare due to road congestion between the airport and harbour at Great Bay, but up to now such large-scale special people and luggage transport operations have been executed relatively smoothly by local professionals in the field.

Tourism is not called a service-based industry for nothing.

The Daily Herald

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