Published On: Fri, Oct 4th, 2013

Dutch assistance for small airlines

EZ airWILLEMSTAD - The small airlines EZ Air and Divi believes that the Netherlands must take action to ensure that Bonaire has a good and affordable air connection with Curaçao. The existence of two smaller airlines that fly to Bonaire is in danger. This was reported by the Caribbean Network.

The two companies are suffering from the high cost of air traffic control. Since December 1, EZ Air and Divi must pay the terminal and airport approach service (air traffic control). The services are provided by the Dutch Caribbean Air Navigation Service Provider (DC ANSP) in Curaçao. The total cost is $ 1.7 million for all airlines flying to Bonaire.

EZ Air and Divi have been in a number of discussions with Dutch officials to present the problems. They must now feedback with the Dutch ministries again. Percy Lauffer, spokesman of EZ Air and Divi Air, argues that the Netherlands must take responsibility. Before the privatization of DC ANSP and political changes on 10-10-10, the cost of air traffic control was paid by the Bonaire government.

Lauffer: "It is a political decision that the Netherlands should take. Small aircraft with a weight capacity of 5.7 tones should be exempted from payment. In the past, small aircrafts had an exemption through a ministerial regulation. But the regime has changed, allowing smaller aircraft to have to contribute to the costs of air traffic control.

The two airlines have to pay now $ 75 per flight for the services of DC ANSP. Since they have a capacity of eight chairs, EZ Air and Divi Air must pass this extra charge on to the passenger which is approximately $ 9. The increase, according to EZ Air Director Rene Winkel, is not an option. They will lose even more passengers. "I had to reduce from four to two flights per week. Since three weeks I’ve been flying only on weekends to Bonaire."

EZ Air and Divi fears drastic consequences if the situation continues. Another option is if the passenger will pay the additional costs separately. Lauffer: “If we are going to raise rates, then there will be less seat occupancy. But we cannot fly with only one or two passengers. Then we will have to close the doors and send 45 men home.”

The Hague has already picked up the issue of air traffic between Curaçao and Bonaire. Chairman of the Kingdom Relations Committee in Parliament, Jeroen Recourt has indicated that he will spread the letter which was sent by EZ Air and Divi Air within the committee. Minister of Traffic, Transport and Urban Planning, Earl Balborda responded in the local afternoon newspaper Amigoe. He argues that the two airlines have a huge debt open with DC ANSP and it has to be paid. Balborda has installed a committee to come with a proposal to deal with this issue within the Kingdom.

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