Sarah: Winair’s success: A story of fighting for what you believe in.



PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — It is with a great feeling of satisfaction that I took note of the publication regarding Winair’s performance for the fiscal year 2016 and I wish to add my words of congratulations to the board of supervisory directors, the management and staff for this accomplishment.

What a turnaround, if one looks back just a few years to the then outlook for this airline company.

Over the past few years, achievements by our national airline Winair have been steadily coming in and time and time again, I had to think of those early days when Winair was inherited from the Netherlands Antilles, bruised and in serious debt. Because of its financial state, no big fight was put up to include the company in the assets/liabilities of the Netherlands Antilles. When we fought to include the negative balance of the company, it was quickly labeled a St. Maarten company.

As a political party, we were  sometimes ridiculed for having accepted during government formation talks,  the Winair company as part of our portfolios and take on the shareholder’s responsibility for Winair. It was both Winair and  PSS by the way, both struggling companies of our young country.

Luckily for the DP and me, there were persons like Michael Ferrier and Georges Greaux, who believed there was a future for Winair if properly managed. It also meant taking some necessary, but unpopular decisions regarding the airline at the time.

File picture: a meeting of Winair representatives and former Prime Minister/Shareholder Rep, Sarah Wescot-Williams.

These decisions could only get the buy-in from Winair’s staff  when they understood the depth and width of the situation the company found itself in. Once convinced however, the staff of  gave their everything to save the airline from a looming demise.

And slowly, but surely, with unparalleled commitment by those mentioned before (board, management and staff), including the representatives of the Dutch government on the board, and a sense of “do-or-die”, Winair started an upward trend, trying new things, abandoning what did not work and never resting on its achieved laurels.

The early management of Winair, following the separation of the Netherlands Antilles was confronted with a backlog in annual reports; outdated statutes and the need to urgently devise a business plan for the ailing company. At the inauguration of the SXM-SDQ flight in 2013 I commented: “I therefore know that any question on whether or not this airline will be moved forward has already been answered in the affirmative.” I can confidently say this again nearly 4 years later. So to our national airline Winair: “Job well done”.