Published On: Tue, Oct 16th, 2018

Surinam Airways must end mid-Atlantic route and focus on the Caribbean, says aviation expert

Suriname AirwaysPARAMARIBO - Surinam Airways (SLM) cannot compete with KLM on the Paramaribo-Amsterdam route, and hence the company needs to get rid of its A340-300 and outsource the route as a joint venture, focusing instead on where SLM can have a competitive advantage, “And that is the Caribbean right now,” the ‘aviation doctor’ Tomas Chlumecky suggested.

On the mid-Atlantic route, Chlumecky suggested that SLM seek a joint-venture with TUI or Turkish Airlines (TK). For example, TK can fly Istanbul-Amsterdam and then Paramaribo as a joint venture and split the profit, using a B777 or B787, and forget about wide body airliners.

Chlumecky has called on SLM to focus its renewal plan on expanding into Brazil, Guyana, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Colombia, Cuba, Jamaica, St Maarten, the US, and Panama, and forget running two different fleets.

He also urged SLM to stick with one type of aircraft. “It is inefficient in such low numbers” to have one Airbus 340, 1 Boeing 737-300 and one Boeing 737-300, he pointed out.

According to Chlumecky, Guyana and Curacao need a local airline and, instead of each going their own way, they should work together. SLM can fly out of Curacao and through Georgetown.

“A joint venture should have been done a long time ago,” he remarked.

Chlumecky said wide body airliners are very expensive. SLM can never be very competitive as a wide body operator. SLM uses a single Airbus A340-300 on its only long-haul flight to Amsterdam.

This route holds historical ties between Suriname and Holland.

“The big future for SLM is the Caribbean Basin market with five to eight Boeing 737 NGs, ideally B737-8 (Max8s), for best economics,” Chlumecky said, adding that SLM needs to think “big; forget thinking small. It has gotten SLM nowhere. Look at the Caribbean; right now you have Caribbean Airlines (CAL), Cayman Airways, Bahamasair and Sunrise as the only operators of commercial jets, and its open to 5th freedoms, 6th freedoms, 7th freedom.”

Meanwhile, SLM rebuked Chlumecky in a press release on Thursday for his “reckless” commentary that has done “damage” to SLM.

Chlumecky responded the same day, “We all would like to see SLM profitable, growing, and creating jobs and shareholder value. I am not the enemy. They just need someone to blame for bringing attention to the mismanagement that has brought SLM to its mess of today.”

There have been calls within SLM to make bold changes but the “board” and some in particular are holding back the airline’s ability to make big decisions.

By Ray Chickrie

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