Published On: Thu, Sep 6th, 2012

DAE files complaint against Minister Cooper

WILLEMSTAD - Airline Dutch Antilles Express (DAE), will sue Minister Charles Cooper (MAN) of Traffic, Transport and Urban Planning due to the damage on credibility, performance, image and sales of the company.

This was confirmed by Nelson Ramiz, DAE manager. Cooper received furious reactions after the Special Tasks Force (DST) visited the DAE employees both at the airport and at the headquarters in Salina. The DST checked every identification documents and work permits. According to Ramiz it felt like the "Gestapo" way of working to thwart a company. This dissatisfaction was also felt by the employees of DAE, who said that they did not appreciate being treated like that in front of tourists and clients.

The Minister is against free competition, said Ramiz. According to the airline, Cooper supports pricing regulations and protects the interests of a powerful group with his actions. Ramiz probably refers to competitor Insel Air.

The minister sent an ultimatum on Tuesday to the airline in which he gave DAE three days to give him the requested figures. If not, the Minister threatens to withdraw the company’s economic license. The Minister 'shamelessly' protect the interest of our competitor Insel Air, according to Ramiz. He also accused the minister of abuse of power. DAE is convinced that Minister Cooper is biased in its efforts towards protection of the interests of the other airline. This probably makes it possible for him to remain in office after the election. "He is violating the interests of the passengers".

Cooper’s Ministry suggests that DAE is not complying with the minimum prices. "There is no such thing as a minimum price", said Ramiz. They are old prices stipulated by the former director of the Aviation Directorate Netherlands Antilles, Siegfried Francisco, which were imposed on Antillean Airlines on the so-called inter-island routes between the islands.

My lawyers have delved into this case. "There is no legal basis showing that we should keep ourselves to old agreements", said Ramiz. The current management of DAE does not agree with this 'One-sided' and 'outdated' dictation. "We believe in the fundamentals of the free market and we do not participate in cartels", he says.

Ramiz: If there are twenty seats available on an airplane, then we won’t earn anything on.  Imagine: a ticket costs hundred dollars per seat. The plane leaves anyway, so I would be foolish if we do not sell these seats for a lower price.

Cooper also wants to know to what extent the special campaigns with sharply reduced ticket prices are justified and are impacting the annual report, but also whether DAE is still a healthy business, and thus a company that complies with the required maintenance schedules.

The minister talks about security, but under his administration the country is downgraded to category two by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). After nine months, we are still looking for solutions scratching our heads. The minister and his team are not making any serious progress, and this idea is shared, even by those he defends, according to the airline.

In conclusion: "Before I was appointed there were twelve technicians. I increased this so that each aircraft is now inspected by seven men. It is difficult to understand how he talks about safety, while he doesn’t have his issues in order".

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