ORANJESTAD – Last year the Dutch Government presented an intended decision to restrict the number of flight movements at Schiphol Airport to a maximum of 440 thousand per year (currently maximum of 500 thousand per year).
This restriction may potentially have a negative impact on the capacity or air traffic flying out of Schiphol Airport to the Dutch Caribbean islands and vice versa. As an interested party the Dutch Caribbean Cooperation of Airports (DCCA) recently submitted its concern in relation hereto to the Dutch Government. The DCCA is a cooperation between the entities that manage and operate the 6 airports of the Dutch Caribbean Island, namely Aruba Airport Authority N.V., Bonaire International Airport N.V., Curacao Airport Partners N.V., Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company N.V., the Public Entity Saba, and the Public Entity St. Eustatius.
The concerns are related mostly to the economic and social effects that the intended decision of restricting the number of movements at Schiphol may have on the region of the Dutch Caribbean. Airlines would possibly also need to decrease flight frequencies to the Dutch Caribbean. As a result, an increase in ticket prices between the Netherlands and the Dutch Caribbean, is quite possible. Less air capacity and, potentially, higher ticket prices may have negative impact on all three segments of travelers: business travel, leisure and visiting friends and relatives (VFR). This will have a negative impact on the economy and the connectivity of social and family networks.
“This potential effect on capacity and on ticket prices is a cause for concern in our region. Based on the information we have; we are assuming that the calculation of the impact of a shrink of Schiphol does not consider the potential effects in the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom. By expressing our concerns, we trust that the interests of the Dutch Caribbean will be taken into account in further decision making of the Dutch Ministry”, said Joost Meijs, CEO of Aruba Airport Authority N.V. and Chair of the DCCA.
The DCCA, seeing the possible negative impact on the economy and social welfare of the Dutch Caribbean, has urged the Dutch Government to ensure that the capacity between the Netherlands and the Dutch Caribbean will not be reduced as a consequence of the intended decision making.
About the DCCA
The Dutch Caribbean Cooperation of Airports (DCCA) is a cooperation between all six Caribbean Airports within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. DCCA’s objective is to improve the general quality of each individual airport by facilitating mutual assistance and efficient exchange of information, transfer of knowledge and sharing of expertise with the goal of achieving economies of scale. DCCA aims to present future focused alternative air transportation options to improve interisland connectivity between the Dutch Caribbean Islands.
Date: June 20, 2023
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Yesterday Bonaire International Airport (BIA) officially opened the new terrace at the departure hall, with the cutting of the ribbon by Lieutenant Governor Rijna, Commissioner Thielman and Mr. Van der Scheer, CEO of BIA. “For many Bonaire residents, Flamingo Airport is a gateway to the region and the rest of the world. In addition, it is an important place for visitors to our island where their stay begins and ends. That is why we want to offer all these passengers a pleasant experience,” says Van der Scheer.
“The BC aims to improve Bonaire’s competitive position. Improving sea and air connections is essential for this,” said Commissioner Thielman. “Upgrading the visitor experience helps improve the tourism product.” Commissioner Thielman announced that he is in an advanced state with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management for the renovation of the platforms and the modernization and expansion of the current terminal.
The new terrace is part of a series of adjustments and extensions to the terminal that have been realized in recent years, including the new area for security control, the new shops and a new operational centre for the Airport Duty Officers team. The terrace offers departing passengers an attractive outdoor waiting area with a bar. The decor with plants, wood, modern furniture and attractive lighting provides a beautiful appearance that matches the island. It has been in use for some time, but was only recently completed in its entirety.
After a blessing by Pastor Santiago, Van der Scheer explained in his speech that the improvements make a major contribution to the passenger experience. He also said that more improvements are coming in the near future, such as the previously announced canopy for arriving passengers, a lift on the platform and a larger baggage belt in the arrivals hall.
“We are very grateful to all our partners for the good cooperation, especially the Public Entity Bonaire, our suppliers and the users of the airport. We want to celebrate this milestone as a token of appreciation to everyone who made this possible. And it is an opportunity for us to share what we are doing to continuously improve Flamingo Airport,” says Van der Scheer. Commissioner Thielman was delighted with this opportunity and looks forward to an intensive collaboration to usher in a new era for Flamingo Airport.
Joint Quarterly Press Conference
Tourism Corporation Bonaire (TCB) together with its partners the Public Entity of Bonaire (OLB), BONHATA, Bonaire International Airport (BIA) and the Harbor Master held its quarterly press conference to provide an overview of Quarter 2 Tourism performance outlook for winter 2022/2023. A noteworthy analysis which was shared during the press conference is the fact that Bonaire welcomed 11,410 visitors (non residents) in August 2022 of which 9,806 originated from international markets such as the Netherlands and USA and 1,507 originated from the CAS countries, 44 visitors from the BES islands and 53 visitors were registered as transit passengers.
In the coming period, the focus of Bonaire’s government will be to develop in a well-balanced manner. The goal is to raise the quality of tourism, which should lead to better income for our citizens. The commissioner for economic development and tourism, Hennyson Thielman, explained: “Many Bonairians earn their daily bread in the tourism sector. Our objective is to improve the quality of life for all Bonairians. This is why we are investing the extra revenue generated by the entry tax, in educating people to upgrade their skills, as well as in promoting our culture, fisheries and infrastructure improvements. The tourist tax law is currently being evaluated to propose some adjustments, among others for the Bonairians who live abroad. We have taken several decisions to guide development toward a better balance between tourism and the community’s well-being. For example, the decision to hold tourist accommodation developments and tie these to stricter rules and conditions. Also, only one large cruise ship will be allowed to moor per day. The recent MoU with Royal Caribbean is to ensure higher revenue for the local sector, as well as investments in our culture, nature and monuments. With these steps and the emphasis on education, we want to achieve that tourism generates much more benefit for our inhabitants.” says Hennyson Thielman, commissioner of Economic & Tourism Affairs.
Tourism Corporation Bonaire’s CEO, Mr. Miles Mercera shared that the aim is to reach 100% tourism recovery by the end of 2022. Tourism Recovery must include structural changes on the way we position the island and the niche market we wish to attract. September 1st 2022, TCB in collaboration with its stakeholders introduced the new branding direction followed by a new website launch mid September 2022. TCB measured a soft decline in visitor numbers compared to July 2022 for the month of August 2022 and a 4% overall decline in total airline ticket movements compared to last year. This is a result of the limited capacity of inter-island traffic and a soft decline in passenger movements from the Netherlands. The USA continued with a strong performance with a steady increase compared to last year. The launch of the Mural of TCB (office building) as part of the product development strategy of TCB was revealed. TCB also shared a sneak peak of the new website and USA branding campaign scheduled to launch mid September 2022.
Veroesjka de Windt, CEO of BONHATA shared that the 1 st Quarter of 2022 started well with an average occupancy of 82% but we have measured a decline in the occupancy percentage starting April which was 79% and it hasn’t gone up since. Quarter 2/3 shows an average of 66%. While if you compare the same months with those of 2021 you see that we did better last year. In comparison, July & August 2021 had an average occupancy of 71 and 74% while 2022 measured an average hotel occupancy of 64 and 58%. BONHATA concludes, similar to TCB that the champagne effect is wearing off. BONHATA shares that all other destinations are open for business which impacts the ABC islands. For Bonaire, that means that there is work to be done and possibilities. Whilst we might have lower occupancy, we have measured an improvement in terms of our Average Daily Rate. The Average Daily Rate 2022 for Q2/3 is $227 and the forecast for Q3/4 is $235. Compared to Q3-4 of 2021 the ADR was $ 192. One can translate to fewer people but more revenue. When talking about the ADR of accommodations it is good to mention that BONHATA members ADR vary between $86 up to $800 a night.
Maarten van der Scheer, CEO of BIA, shared that Bonaire International Airport experienced a strong first half of 2022. BIA processed 8% more arriving and departing passengers than in the first 7 months of the pre-COVID year 2019. Flamingo Airport is well underway with the preparation of a number of improvements at the airport, in order to upgrade the capacity and quality experience for the passengers. BIA is optimistically cautious about the 2022 and 2023 forecasts, Van der Scheer mentioned the worldwide pilot shortage as a possible risk for future developments.
Ms. Kia-San Silberie on behalf of Harbor Master presented the most recent data for the months of July (2 cruise ships) and August (2 cruise ships and also provided a view for the next month of September (5 cruise ships). Kia-san informed that Bonaire port is currently busy with the cruise schedule for the remainder of 2022 and full schedule for 2023, according to the new executive council policy to move towards the one cruise ship call a day policy. Kia-san also went into detail on the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that has been signed with Royal Caribbean Cruise lines which enables the port the ability to collaborate closely with the cruise line to work towards the “perfect vessel” for Bonaire. To have the perfect fit vessel requires improvement of the operation at the port, regarding bookings, services, and planning.
As part of the Tourism Recovery plan the stakeholders initiated the joint quarterly tourism press conferences with the aim to promote and foster collaboration and inform our local community on the developments within the tourism industry. TCB in collaboration with its stakeholders will continue to inform our community on a quarterly basis on the developments, opportunities and challenges in the Tourism Industry.
Partners: OLB, BONHATA, BIA, Haven Meester and TCB.
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