June 15, 2010
* Commissioner of Aviation Affairs, Mr. Frans Richardson
* ICAO Regional Officer CNS and Secretary of the ECAR/WG, Mr. Julio Cesar Sui
* Chairman of the ECAR/WG, Mr. Anthony Meade
* Ladies and Gentlemen
I hereby, on behalf of Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company, extend a warm welcome to all present this morning, and in particular to our guests who came from overseas to attend this meeting, the 32nd ICAO Eastern Caribbean Working Group Meeting. Specifically I am honored to have the opportunity as PJIAE to host this important meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). At this time I therefore wish to especially thank the organizers of this conference, Mr. Sui and Mr. Meade for having chosen PJIAE and St. Maarten/St. Martin to host this ICAO regional meeting.
Hosting this ICAO meeting of Caribbean aviation regulatory bodies comes at an appropriate and interesting time for St. Maarten. It comes at time when St. Maarten is preparing to change its constitutional status to that of Autonomous Country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands in less than four months. It comes on the eve of St. Maarten establishing its own civil aviation authority to assume regulatory and oversight responsibilities for aviation matters on the island. With the change of Status St. Maarten will take its place and play a larger role in regional meetings of this nature in the near future.
PJIAE as the airport and air traffic services provider of St. Maarten already plays an important role in the North Eastern Caribbean. In the coming two days we at PJIAE, as your host, hope to meet your expectations and in trying to do so, I will therefore start by briefly introducing you to our airport, PJIA. PJIA is located on the Dutch side of our tourist paradise but serves both sides of our dual-nation island, St. Maarten/St.Martin.
In the broadest sense our airport's strategic approach is aimed at maintaining St. Maarten position as a premier tourist destination; a position that can only be ensured by offering airlines, passengers, and other users: airport, air traffic control and commercial services, that meet the highest possible industry standards.
As part of our strategic approach and master plan, we expanded and upgraded our aviation facilities by commissioning:
* our new ATC and Radar facility in early 2004;
* the introduction of the MEVA system;
* our new terminal building late 2006; and
* works on the introduction of our Runway End Safety Area early 2010.
These are but some of our ongoing efforts to remain a regional leader in aviation, providing safe, secure and quality services. Our airport is served by approximately 200 flights a day, which transported over 1.6 million passengers in 2009, almost 50% of which originated from our main tourism markets in North America, followed by Europe and the Caribbean.
The activities of PJIAE on the island translates in major economic spin-offs given the strong correlation between the economic growth on the island and passenger growth at PJIA. This makes PJIA the islands single most important strategic asset. It is therefore essential that the airport continue to be in a position to offer the services required to fuel our local economy as well as that of the surrounding islands.
As I said earlier, to do so we must provide services at the highest possible industry standards. That is why we support this meeting during which topics of extreme importance for the further improvement of our region's aviation infrastructure will be discussed.
Over the next couple of days you'll be talking about critical issues like:
* improved communications between our region's airports;
* optimization of Air Traffic Services routes;
* enhancing capacity and efficiency of aerodrome operations;
* improving the availability of meteorogical information; and
* Human Resources Strategy and Training for the next Generation of Aviation Professionals.
Hopefully the ambiance of our island will assist you in reaching resolutions on these matters; issues we all know are crucial for the further development of our aviation infrastructure and thus our regions economies.
Let me conclude by wishing you productive and successful meetings and at the same time hope that over the next few days, you'll find time in your busy schedule to explore our beautiful and friendly island.