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Printed in The Daily Herald, Wed 25-Jun-2003

AirSintMaarten planning first flight this weekend

PHILIPSBURG--AirSintMaarten is wrapping up negotiations with a major established carrier in the Kingdom to fly the route Amsterdam-St. Maarten-Amsterdam. The first flight is planned for this weekend.

Negotiations with an airline that is already flying within the Kingdom are in a "very advanced stage," AirSintMaarten Managing Director Terrance Rey told The Daily Herald on Tuesday. "We will be flying."

Both parties had already come to a principal agreement on Tuesday and by today, Wednesday, the coordination of bookings and flights should be completed, Rey said.

Rey said he was aiming for the first flight to be executed this weekend. For now AirSintMaarten will fly the route Amsterdam-St. Maarten, with most probably a fuel stop in Curacao, once a week.

The airline is working out a marketing promotion programme together with officials from the local tourism sector. The bookings are "doing well," said Rey, who is originally from St. Maarten and now lives in Holland.

"People are very eager. Not only from people in St. Maarten or persons in Holland with ties to St. Maarten, but also tourists." AirSintMaarten started out as a virtual airline and bookings are still made through the Internet.

The flights in conjunction with Air Holland, which were scheduled to start June 30, have been cancelled, because of objections by both parties, said Rey. The airline had been in negotiations with the Dutch charter company to execute flights twice a week to St. Maarten, on Monday and Friday.

After the deal fell through, Air Holland announced that it would still execute the Friday flight, making a stop in St. Maarten on the way to Cura‡ao. However, the airline's Internet site doesn't mention the Friday flight anymore and neither do press statements. Air Holland is starting to fly the route Amsterdam-Cura‡ao-Amsterdam shortly, offering tickets for NAf. 500.

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