Suriname seeks cooperation agreement with Turkish Airlines
PARAMARIBO - When the foreign minister of Suriname, Niermala Badrising, attended the 13th Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) heads of government summit in Istanbul in April, she delivered a proposal to the Turkish government soliciting Turkish Airlines (THY) cooperation in Suriname’s aviation sector during a bilateral meeting with her Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, on April 13.
Badrising used the forum in Turkey to showcase her country and urged member states to invest in Suriname.
She told the summit that Suriname "has a conducive environment for foreign direct investments in sectors such as ICT, energy, tourism, housing and infrastructure. Suriname provides ample opportunities for trade and investment ventures in natural resources, such as gold, bauxite, oil and other minerals, and an abundance of arable farmland is available for the development of the agro-industry”.
With a fleet of over 310 aircraft and a network that spans 283 cities in six continents, THY is a mega global carrier, and is one of the most profitable airlines in the world.
The initiative to bring THY to Suriname also has the personal support of the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who met the former vice president of Suriname, Robert Ameerali, in 2013. Erdogan, in a press statement with Ameerali, said that he also hoped that Turkish Airlines would add Paramaribo to its global network.
Ambassador of Suriname to Turkey, Liakat Alibux, said, "Turkish Airlines is an airline with one of the largest networks in the world. This collaboration will also add a lifeline for the national carrier, Surinam Airways (SLM).”
Badrising’s proposal to THY has not been disclosed. However, Turkey and the EU do not have an open air agreement and without the Netherlands' approval direct flights from Amsterdam to Paramaribo may be impossible.
Badrising said on Thursday that negotiations between Turkish Airlines and the government of Suriname are in the initial phase.
Calls for Turkish Airlines to add Suriname to its network has gone viral on social media. There is a popular widespread Facebook campaign led by Stijn Brinkhaus of the Netherlands under the banner “Turkish Airlines cheaper to Suriname”, with the objective of having THY to enter the Suriname market from Amsterdam in order to break the SLM and KLM monopoly on the route. Brinkhaus’s campaigning now has over 10,000 likes.
Suriname, a little known country, just like the UAE once was, can offer Turkish Airlines some incentives to invest. The United States and Suriname have an open air agreement, which is an attractive reason for an SLM/THY joint venture.
The small and exotic country of Suriname, some say, can be the launching ground for Turkish Airlines or other Gulf carriers to take advantage of the peaceful and stable multi-cultural Suriname and its strategic location; unique eco and cultural tourism products and its proximity to Africa and the Americas.
Suriname is part of the CARICOM Air Agreement, which is very liberal.
Another selling point is Suriname’s strategic proximity to West Africa. The transportation and aviation industry in Africa is on the resurgence. This new frontier is rapidly growing.
Suriname also has a liberal aviation agreement with Brazil, a major market.