With Anguilla on the verge of signing an agreement to have jet blue fly directly to the Island, the question is what does it mean for the hub service St. Maarten has provided for all these years? Since the hurricane of 2017 the politics that has taking center stage on St. Maarten, is now yielding its fruits. We have failed to take into account even putting in place the accommodations necessary to facilitate this important niche market by making it easy for them to transition smoothly to their final destination. Instead, after two years, we find ourselves with a damaged shell called an airport, half used, and politicians fighting over who can do it better.
St. Maarten has been the gateway into this exclusive market of Anguilla and St. Barth; both Islands known for catering to an upscale tourism market. It seems that this reality is not taken seriously in the rebuilding efforts of the Airport after the Hurricane. It’s more about who has the political advantage locally, while these Islands are trying to figure out ways to avoid our lack of ability in a timely manner, to continue providing the service that we have offered the region as a hub. The Anguillan Government officials are now seizing the opportunity to generate direct interest and business for Anguilla cutting out St. Maarten when it comes to air travel.
It is also safe to admit that St. Kitts and Antigua were discovered when they found themselves regularly on the cruise ship itinerary after St. Maarten was not able to host these cruise vessels after the hurricane. Although we have rebounded quickly in the cruise sector, we have suffered a direct loss of position and revenues for our economy. And that loss is now beginning to hit home. If we don’t wake up and begin to work quickly on rebuilding the Airport, we stand to lose even more.