by Ian Sheppard
– October 10, 2017,
Air operations resumed on hurricane-torn island of St. Maarten, in the Caribbean on Tuesday. “We’re back open and ready for business…today we have resumed civil operations to the island. The first aircraft to land was a Dassault Falcon 8X that day,” airport COO Michel Hyman said at NBAA 2017.
Previously, operations have been limited mainly to non-scheduled flights for humanitarian and reconstruction purposes after a triple-whammy of three hurricanes–Irma (September 6), Jose (September 9) and Maria (September 19). The airport’s main terminal had most of its roof ripped off so passenger handling is now at the small FBO, which Execujet, part of Europe’s Luxaviation Group, acquired in June last year from local company TLC. This “phase 2” recovery situation is set to continue for “24 to 30 weeks,” said Hyman.
The Princess Juliana International Airport acts as a hub for many other islands around St. Maarten, such as Anguilla, St Barts, St Kitts & Nevis, Guadaloupe and Dominica, he said. A new general aviation terminal has been designed for St. Maarten airport. Hyman said the new GA terminal will house two FBOs, operated by Signature and Luxaviation, with the old FBO building likely to be used as offices once the new GA terminal opens in 2019.
“We have completed the design and selected a construction vendor,” said Hyman. “And now we’re ready for ground breaking–we plan to do that on November 10.” He noted that all designs of buildings are now being reviewed to ensure they can withstand Irma-like winds.
The airport is on the east side of St. Maarten on the Dutch side–the northern half of the island is a French territory, but the two share the international airport.