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James asks questions about government’s Winair plans

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James asks questions about government’s Winair plans

Unread post by michaelawai » Tue Jan 22, 2013

http://www.thedailyherald.com/islands/1 ... lans-.html

James asks questions about government’s Winair plans
In light of planned national airline
Tuesday, 22 January 2013

COLE BAY

Wouldn't a second "national" airline cut into the market share of Windward Islands Airways International (Winair), United People's (UP) party Member of Parliament (MP) Jules James questioned in relation to Transportation Minister Romeo Pantophlet's announcement that government intends to establish "a national airline."

James said in a press statement Monday that one has to wonder whether the Minister is living on St. Maarten or somewhere else, because Winair can be considered as "close to a national airline," since St. Maarten owns 92 per cent of it. The remainder is held by The Netherlands on behalf of St. Eustatius and Saba.

"The Minister should first look at ways to acquire 100 per cent ownership of Winair and then expand the operations. In this way we could better manage our growth."

James questioned whether there are "forces at work" who want to see Winair "fail and go belly up," thus making way for the new national airline. "What will happen to the 70 plus employees and their families? Who will benefit from the initiative at the expense of the country and the workers of Winair?"

James said that having "an ambitious agenda" is one thing, but spending tax payer's money must remain "of paramount concern." The Minister's proposal for a national airline, as stated in the recent launch of the National Alliance (NA)-led coalition's Governing Programme, was described as putting the cart before the horse.

"We have to wonder if this is really the government for the people. Aren't the Minister and government thinking of the present employees of Winair? Wouldn't a second airline cut into the market share of Winair, thereby resulting in a loose-loose scenario for both airlines?" James asked.

Pantophlet needs to explain his plans to maintain and sustain such an airline project, the MP said, while asking if a feasibility study has been carried out for (another) national airline and if the matter was discussed in detail with the coalition partners: the Democratic Party (DP) and the three independent MPs.

"The Minister has thrown into the air another wild idea without any substance behind it, one can conclude at this point in time. We have too many unanswered questions."

The former UP-led coalition together with DP saw Winair "make a turn-around, and the airline, along with its hard-working employees, continues to work diligently to make things work, and they are on the right track," the MP said.

Pantophlet needs to provide the people with a feasibility study to show that this initiative will work, based on identified markets, and that it doesn't harm Winair in any way and that tax-payers won't have to foot the bill, James said.

"Tax payers' money should not be used as the Minister's personal 'piggy bank' to start a national airline ... [as] this will further increase the debt of the country and burden tax payers."
He who laughs last, too dumb to get the joke!

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