St. Maarten-Dominican Republic Flight Ban Overruled By Minister

Following an alleged dispute between the two countries’ civil aviation authorities, flights between St. Maarten and the Dominican Republic have been allowed to continue, at least until August 31st.

On Monday, a letter was sent from St. Maarten’s Civil Aviation Authority to the Dominican Republic, stating that all flights between the two countries will be canceled as of August 5th.

St. Maarten’s acting Minister of Tourism, Omar Ottley, has now provided some clarity to shocked passengers, confirming that flights will operate normally until at least August 31st, allowing him the time needed to address the alleged dispute.

SIMPLE FLYING VIDEO OF THE DAY

Flights between the two countries will now be allowed to continue until at least August 31st. Photo: Winair

Monday’s letter appears to have been sent in response to the Junta de Aviación Civil de la República Dominicana (JAC), the civil aviation authority of the Dominican Republic, preventing Windward Islands Airways (Winair), a St. Maarten-based airline, from operating between the two countries.

Winair has accused the Dominican Republic’s civil aviation authority of wanting to provide a monopoly on flights to Dominican-based carriers. Michael Cleaver, Winair’s chief executive officer, stated,

“It constitutes a violation of the bilateral agreement on air transport between St. Maarten and the Dominican Republic.”

Ottley also condemned the dispute, stating,

“We will have to find a more diplomatic approach to the situation and ensure that we protect our airline [Winair] while allowing free movement between both countries who have a long and cherished history of friendship and family ties.”

Caribbean connections

Flights between St. Maarten and the Dominican Republic are currently operated by three airlines – Winair and Dominican-based Sky High Aviation Services fly to Santo Domingo – Las Américas (SDQ), and Dominican carrier Air Century flies to Santo Domingo – La Isabela (JBQ ).

Newcomer Arajet is expected to start operations imminently from its base at Santo Domingo – Las Américas airport. Photo: Arajet

Many passengers travel between the two Caribbean nations for tourism, business, and medical purposes. With school holidays due to come to an end shortly too, canceled flights could lead to severe disruption for passengers.

Last year, a total of 18,152 passengers traveled from St. Maarten to the Dominican Republic, representing a significant proportion of the over 44,000 arrivals in the Dominican Republic from the Dutch Caribbean as a whole (St. Maarten, Curaçao, and Aruba).

About Winair

Windward Islands Airways was founded in 1961. The regional carrier survived the pandemic thanks to a loan from the Dutch Government, and today operates to 16 destinations around the Caribbean from its hub at Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten. Its fleet of eight aircraft is made up of three ATR 42-500s, one ATR 72-600, and four DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft.

The airline’s home base is well-known among aviation enthusiasts worldwide for its very low-altitude approach over Maho Beach, providing impressive photo opportunities. The airport’s current long-haul services include Air France, with flights to Paris Charles de Gaulle, and KLM, with flights to Amsterdam.

American Airlines used to fly its Boeing 757s to St. Maarten. Today the flights are normally operated by the airline’s Airbus narrowbody aircraft. Photo: Fabrizio Gandolfo via Getty Images

The St. Maarten Minister of Tourism is expected to meet imminently with members of the Civil Aviation Authority and other officials to discuss the ongoing dispute.

What do you think of the proposed flight ban between St. Maarten and the Dominican Republic? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

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