Airport Reconstruction to be completed by October, PJIAE tells Minister of TEATT

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Minister of TEATT, Grisha Heyliger-Marten (center), accompanied by Perry Wilson, managing director, PJIAH (to her right) and others during the tour of the airport Friday.

 

GREAT BAY —The reconstruction of the Terminal Building at Princess Juliana International Airport will be completed by this October, management of the airport assured Grisha Heyliger-Marten, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication when she toured the facilities on Friday.

In her discussions with the airport management (PJIAE) team, the minister emphasized the critical importance of completing the terminal building which has been ongoing for the last seven years. 

“This project is vital not only for the residents of St. Maarten but also for visitors and neighboring islands that rely on SXM as a hub airport,” Heyliger-Marten said. 

The minister expressed concern about the delays in reconstruction which has resulted in a significant $7 million cost increase due to an oversight. Of particular concern to her was the issue of travelers opting for direct flights to Anguilla or choosing routes via Puerto Rico to St. Barths instead of using St. Maarten as a hub. 

Min. Heyliger-Marten noted that American Airlines has increased its direct service to Anguilla and other neighboring islands, further diminishing the hub function of SXM Airport. The minister is awaiting detailed figures and responses to several inquiries she made during the previous week.

The current state of the arrival hall negatively impacts the island’s first impression on visitors, Heyliger-Marten continued. She said poor arrival experiences can contribute to a decline in repeat visitors and a potential loss of market share.

Furthermore, as St. Maarten prepares to host the upcoming Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) conference in October, the Minister highlighted the necessity of ensuring that cruise industry partners and visitors have a seamless and positive first and lasting impression of the island. Over 500 delegates are expected to attend the conference.

Heyliger-Marten also expressed concerns regarding employee satisfaction at PJIAE and the turnover rate. The management of PJIAE informed her that they are actively recruiting St. Martiners from the Netherlands. Detailed hiring figures will be provided to the minister shortly.