AIRPORT – CEO of Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIAE) Brian Mingo stated his concern about the scheduled industrial action by the Windward Islands Civil Servant Union (WICSU/PSU) on Saturday, January 15. According to Mingo, the strike had a negative effect on the airport’s operations because it was planned during peak hours and could have serious financial implications.
“The recovering business we have restored up to now is being threatened due to these actions. A planned “No Show” by air traffic controllers (ATS) on the airport’s busiest day, could also have safety implications for our airport,” said Mingo in a statement issued early Saturday morning.
The airport received a letter received from the WICSU/PSU on Friday evening informing PJIAE management of a planned union members meeting on Saturday January 15.
The union’s actions were related to an on-going remuneration demand for increases owed to its members since 2018 – 2020. The ultimatum was set for Friday, January 14.
“We are preparing what we believe to be a suitable package that the airport can afford at this time. We have requested more time from the union so that the package can be presented in its completed form on Monday, January 17, 2022, however, the union has not agreed and has taken what we believe is ill-advised and damaging action,” Mingo said.
The airport CEO stated that precautionary measures were taken during the late hours on Friday night and early Saturday morning to minimize the impact of the union’s and the ATS personnel’s actions. At the same time, stakeholders and airline partners were being informed of possible disruptions in service at PJIA on Saturday.
The Government of Sint Maarten and the PJIAE Supervisory Board of Directors were also urgently notified about the developments as these could negatively impact the airport and the island in general.
“I am appealing to everyone to remain calm and allow the process of negotiations to take place so that we can come to a mutual agreement on a settlement that is in the best interest of everyone. Disruptive actions at this time, on our busiest day have inconvenienced thousands of passengers. It sends a negative message to those out there looking at how we are recovering from Hurricane Irma and the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to continue to work together, to rebuild and recover our business fully”,” concluded the Airport chief.
The Princess Juliana International Airport initially announced a scheduled closure at 6:00pm to preserve safety due to the limited staff. This was later extended to 9:00pm after obtaining staff reinforcement.