PHILIPSBURG:--- The tiny temporary terminal structure at Princess Juliana International Airport
has left the business community and people in general concerned about the Airport’s ability to handle the traffic that is to be expected as St. Maarten hits the peak of its tourism season.
The small temporary facility has Member of Parliament and Leader of the United People’s Party MP Rolando Brison “bewildered,” with many questions in a bid to understand the logic behind the Airport Management’s decision. In a desperate bid to salvage the situation and prevent a tourism catastrophe, Brison has put forward several crucial suggestions to the Airport Management. He said his goal is to “ensure the seamless functioning of Princess Juliana International Airport during this critical high season.”
Among his ideas, Brison recommends expanding the arrival building into the employee parking
lot, creating additional space to cater to the passenger surge. He also passionately pleads for
the reinstatement of VIP services, particularly during the high season, spanning from November
through March, as he fears that failing to do so will cause an exodus of the elite jet aviation
market from St. Maarten.
“Under the circumstances, the Airport Management should also consider extending VIP services
from commercial aircraft to the Fixed Base Operator (FBO), with extra immigration agents at
the FBO to expedite the process,” said MP Brison. This strategic move, he believes, can
potentially alleviate the congestion by 10-15%, depending on flight traffic.
Brison goes further, touching on tail-to-tail transfer options and improvements in airport
amenities. He suggests discussions with civil aviation and justice authorities to streamline tail-
to-tail transfers, which would provide a lifeline to passengers switching between commercial,
private, or national carriers.
The absence of free Wi-Fi, benches along walkways, plants, misting fans, free fruit punch, live
music, additional baggage belt tents, and other amenities have also caught the MP’s attention. They have formed part of a checklist of improvements that he has submitted to the Government of St. Maarten via the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation & Telecommunication (TEATT).
These improvements would vastly enhance the passenger experience. Brison said the decisions made by the Airport Management in the coming days will determine whether the
island thrives or barely survives this critical season. The shocking oversight and lackluster planning by PJIA have given birth to this diminutive temporary terminal. The structure was erected to accommodate passengers during the ongoing repairs of the airport, which has been marred since the devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria unleashed their fury upon St. Maarten in 2017. “One cannot help but wonder what the Airport Management was thinking when they
constructed this miniature structure,” said MP Brison. MP Brison is no stranger to asking the
tough questions and demanding accountability. He said the unfortunate fact is that the temporary structure is “way too small.” The last temporary structure put in place after Hurricane Irma and Maria was more than twice the size of the one that now sits next to the staff parking lot at PJIA. According to MP Brison more consideration has to be given to the fact that during this period, PJIA will welcome many travelers from across the globe; “the stakes have never been higher, “as St. Maarten is hoping to turn a corner into and enter a robust economy for the long stretch.
It is against this backdrop that the MP has expressed his concern that the terminal is woefully ill-equipped to handle the influx of tourists and is set to deal a devastating
blow to the island's tourism industry, especially during the Thanksgiving weekend, widely
recognized as the busiest travel weekend of the year.