POND ISLAND – Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Cornelius de Weever, recently led a delegation that met with officials from Spirit Airlines regarding airlift into the country post-Irma, and an update on destination hospitality service and infrastructure developments.
The objective of the meeting with Spirit Airlines was to maintain a constant dialogue with airline partners and provide them with the information they need to make decisions on restoring their past level of air services as soon as possible.
Prior to Irma, Spirit provided weekly flights from Ft. Lauderdale with a 228-seat aircraft. As of May 5, Spirit Airlines will commence with air service using an Airbus 319 that can carry 145 passengers. At a later time, they will reintroduce a larger aircraft such as the A321 with 228 seats.
“Spirit has been providing air service to the country for almost a decade at competitive prices. It is very important in this post-Irma era to maintain contact and provide current destination updates to our travel industry partners. The delegation included representatives from key entities within our economy, such as SXM Airport and the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association.
“Government and the local tourism sector are well aware of the challenges currently being faced by the destination where it concerns the high airfares to and from the North American market, which is related to the demand and supply of seats to the destination, coupled with the limited number of hubs in the United States servicing the country.
“As a destination we are doing all possible to further strengthen our communication efforts to provide the travel and tourism trade market with up-to-date information related to our country’s recovery efforts underway.
“I am very pleased that Spirit Airlines has committed to return to the destination in May. It represents confidence in the destination as more hotel properties re-open therefore increasing the number of accommodations for our visitors,” Minister Cornelius de Weever said on Monday.
The Sint Maarten delegation met with Mark Kopczak, Vice President Network Planning; Richard Lowry, Senior Director Distribution & Sales; Michael J. Purchon, Regional Director; and Tim R. Archer, Manager Airport Affairs.
The Sint Maarten delegation comprised of Chief Operating Officer (COO) Michel Hyman of SXM Airport, Ricardo Perez, the President of the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA), and member of the St. Maarten Timeshare Association (SMTA) and St. Maarten Marine Trades Association (SMMTA), and Regina M. LaBega, member of the Cabinet of the Minister TEATT.