[Sint Maarten] Winair celebrates 57th anniversary

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[Sint Maarten] Winair celebrates 57th anniversary

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Aug 24, 2018

https://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/2018/0 ... niversary/

[Sint Maarten] Winair celebrates 57th anniversary
August 23, 2018

PHILIPSBURG, St Maarten

With regional carrier Winair’s 57th anniversary milestone falling on August 24, 2018, the airline’s management has shared with the public what the status of the company is today, in the aftermath almost one year ago of hurricanes Irma and Maria’s devastating effects to the region.

Winair was founded by Capt. Georges Emilien Greaux, Capt. Hypolite Faustin Ledee, and Norman Chester Wathey in 1961 and with its home base at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) in St Maarten. In 1976, Winair was acquired by the Netherlands Antilles to ensure that the vital air connectivity between St Maarten, Saba and Statia was maintained.

With the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on October 10, 2010, the ownership of Winair was transferred to St Maarten with just over 92 percent interest in the company and to the Netherlands with just under 8 percent. An ad hoc committee led by Michael Ferrier and supported by Roberto Gibbs, Jeroen Veen and Michael Cleaver, established new statutes based on Book 2 of the Civil Code followed by a new supervisory board of directors being established in July 2011.

Georges Alain Greaux became chairman of the supervisory board of directors and along with his fellow directors Robert Budike and Gerrit Draai (†2018) started with the daunting task of turning the company around by establishing a good management team and plan of action.

Cleaver, a seasoned airline executive, was hired as CEO and president of the company, with Gibbs as CFO to complete the management board. By the first annual general meeting of shareholders in June 2012, all backlogged financial statements were presented and by the end of 2012 Winair became profitable again.

This feat was accomplished with no capital injection from either shareholder and is a true testament to the work that has been put into it by the employees and by having great management leadership to motivate and guide them.

While the region has seen the collapse of many airlines such as ALM, DCA, DAE, BonairExel, Tiara, Cardinal, and lately PAWA, and some uncertainty with Insel Air, Winair has been able to grow and reinvent itself not only to survive the various airline industry conditions in the region but to achieve the success it enjoys today.

Some interesting facts are that Winair had close to 23,000 flights in 2016 and was well on its way to reach that number in 2017 and is the number one carrier in runway utilization and passenger movement at PJIA. It continues to strive to give passengers the best service possible, on time performance, and most importantly a safe and enjoyable experience.

Its maintenance program and flight training rivals that of larger carriers, something that it is proud of and is recognized by many airlines in partnering on interline and code share agreements. Besides scheduled flights, Winair flies charters regularly and has throughout its history also provided medical evacuation services.

In its 57-year existence, Winair has contributed to the development of not only PJIA as a hub, but all regional destinations it has served as well. The economic impact includes the human resources from home base to all outstations through direct and indirect contributions to the respective economies.

Recognizing these facts, Winair endeavours to work with all its destination stakeholders to find the right marketing tools to drive the business to and from these destinations and all its spin off effects such as taxis, hotels, rental cars, shopping, restaurants, etc.

Winair will provide air connectivity to approximately 175,000 passengers through St Maarten in 2018, generating hundreds of thousands if not millions of US dollars in various sectors of the local St Maarten economy.

Post Hurricane IRMA and Maria, Winair made painful adjustments in the immediate aftermath to its cost of operations and, due to its 56-year-old headquarters being totally destroyed, found temporary facilities for its call center and administration. Its new headquarters is expected to be completed in about five months with improvements to accommodate customers better.

The hangar was badly damaged but is now fully repaired and functional. Once its aircraft returned to base immediately after Irma, Winair operated 70 relief flights for the government of St Maarten and brought in relief supplies for its staff and other organizations. Winair also adapted itself to changing traffic patterns post Irma to ensure it was able to successfully offer services of customers traveling to and from Antigua, San Juan, and St Kitts due to limited services offered at PJIA.

The airline also introduced services to Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, Santo Domingo and Haiti with its partner Air Antilles, and opened a sales and reservation office in Phillipsburg to ensure a point of contact was reestablished immediately after Irma for customers. The changes made in both cost of operations and route to market were successfully implemented and had enough traction in the first half of 2018 for the company to turn a profit.

This positive side includes employee levels coming back to almost pre-Hurricane Irma level. Winair has faced the possibility of bankruptcy in the past, so it remains its goal to maintain a healthy bottom-line instead of recklessly introducing below cost discounted promotional fares. With that healthy bottom-line, it has compiled the financial tools to look at new aircraft purchases as part of reinvestment in the business in order to serve customers better for the long term.

Winair’s ambition is to truly be a leader in the regional airline industry but also recognizes that forging alliances and partnerships with other strong regional airlines is a big plus in providing a superior network of connectivity at a lower cost to the traveling public. It are a founding member of the Caribsky Alliance along with Air Antilles and LIAT with the goal to establish this connectivity network with all the benefits of better options and fare structures on the menu for our customers.

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