Was DAE’s situation the same as InselAir’s?
WILLEMSTAD - Now that the local aviation company InselAir is going through some financial tough times, many people recollect the time when another airline was going through the same. This airline was Dutch Antilles Express. It is still fresh in the memory of many on the island when DAE was declared bankrupt. Hundreds of employees lost their jobs and the airport suddenly became extremely quiet, especially when there were no flights from Europe, like KLM and TUI, and from the U.S., like American Airlines.
DAE kept the airport busy with flights from several destinations, especially from Venezuela. The bankruptcy of the airline sure had a negative economic impact on the island.
We asked Mr Nelson Ramiz, who was at the helm of the airline if he can give us a recollection as to why DAE needed the support from the Curaçao government. And also if InselAir is in the same situation as was DAE at the time they needed the government’s assistance.
“No, prior to May of that year (2013) DAE was growing in revenue, fleet, passenger, destinations and profits. We hit against a wall when the Government of Venezuela unilaterally, without a valid reason, unilaterally first suspended and later cancelled our landing rights into Venezuela our largest market at the time,” said Ramiz.
“It is important to note that we were asking for a government guarantee. Giro Bank was willing to extend our line of Credit. We were not asking for a handout, a gift, as InselAir regularly demands.”
Ramiz continued saying that DAE did not need the 5 million requested to continue operating while waiting for the money in Venezuela, at that time 23 million dollars. “We knew that the new markets would have generated the necessary revenues and profit to pay for the requested line of credit.”
“We requested the money after we waited for months to try to lift the illegally and unilateral restrictions which were in violation of the Bilateral Treaty. These restrictions were imposed by the corrupt Venezuelan government official General Paz Fleitas, President of INAC paid 250,000 dollars by a third party to cancel our landing rights in Venezuela, the biggest market for any Curaçao airline.
We needed the money as working capital to increase our expansion into Colombia, Sint Maarten, Puerto Rico, Port of Spain, Barbados, Dominican Republic, and the USA. We had made the necessary investments in adding two additional ATR72 and two Additional MD83 already delivered to the airline to start operations into Medellin, Santa Marta, Cartagena, Cali, Houston, Puerto Rico and Atlanta. The money that we were requesting was not to pay a debt or fix old aircraft. We needed it as working capital to expand and increase our operations away from Venezuela and therefore reduce our dependence on that market.
The ministers and politicians decided not to support the guarantee and also refused to assist DAE on its bilateral fight allowing the Government of Venezuela to illegally and corruptly violate the Bilateral Treaty signed between the two countries. They never requested the Netherlands’ intervention and excused themselves by fabricating lies, personal gossip and that there were other more important matters and interest between Venezuela and Curaçao. According to them, DAE did not need to be spared because InselAir was there to take its place.
The results are clear. Curaçao had to continue pouring millions of dollars into InselAir. InselAir never improved its financial situation. They never improved their fleet and must important they never hired the hundreds of employees they said they would hire from the close to 400 employees of DAE that lost their jobs.
Curaçao became vulnerable by its dependence on a weak monopoly that has never been able to lift itself from its death bed regardless of multiple transfusion of millions of dollars. Dollars that could have been used to improve the life of thousands of citizens of the island.”