the Governor's Speeches

Back to Speeches Indexnov 04, 2016

Remarks by the Governor of Sint Maarten His Excellency Drs. Eugene B. Holiday on the occasion of Windward Island International Airways 55th Anniversary celebration


Ladies and Gentlemen
A pleasant Good Evening to you. In particular I will like to acknowledge the Management and Board of Supervisory Directors and to extend warm greetings to the former and present employees of WINAIR.
Marie-Louise and I are pleased to join all who make up the Windward Islands International Airways family to celebrate the 55th anniversary. It’s good to see a number of familiar faces ………………

Fifty five years of providing safe airline services to Sint Maarten and surrounding islands is a major feat in the often challenging, complex and competitive aviation business. WINAIR’s durability and resilience is a testimony:
• to the vision of the founders;
• to the support of shareholders and creditors,
• to the sacrifices and dedication of  employees;
• to the loyal patronage of its passengers;
• to the cooperation of its aviation partners; and
• to the contributions of the managements and supervisory boards over the years.
It is thus my pleasure to commend and congratulate the entire WINAIR Family on the celebration of this significant historic moment in the life of our airline. Congratulations!

Ladies and Gentlemen,
In seems like yesterday that I addressed the crowd at WINAIR’s 35th anniversary celebration. In preparing this speech I dove into my archives and came across some pictures and taught where did my hair go?
As I look around the room tonight I see many of the persons who were at that celebration.
At the time I was, despite difficult circumstances, optimistic and expressed confidence in the future of WINAIR. Reflecting on WINAIR’s strengths I noted that who would believe that WINAIR would have outlived aviation giants like PANAM and Eastern Airlines. And today I can add who would have thought that WINAIR would go on to outlive its sister airline ALM.
Established in 1961 as Windward Islands Airways – that is before I was born –, WINAIR has since safely navigated the surrounding airspaces transporting millions of passengers, residents and tourists, throughout the North Eastern Caribbean, ranging from Guadeloupe to the south of Sint Maarten to Puerto Rico to the west of Sint Maarten. During the past 55 years WINAIR:
• Evolved from a private to a government owned company;
• Provided vital air connections between Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius and Saba;
• Survived the oil crisis of the 1970s;
• Helped facilitate the tourism and economic boom on Sint Maarten of the 1970s and 1980s
• Overcame its YS-11 crises of the early 1990s;
• Prevailed over the devastating impact of hurricane Luis of 1995;
• Adopted to the ever changing aviation standards to secure safe transportation services;
• Endured the major shock to aviation and the world economy as a result of the 911 terrorist attacks of 2001;
• And throughout this period developed into the second largest passenger carrier and vital player at Princes Juliana International Airport.

The 55 years history of WINAIR can thus in short be described as follows:
• WINAIR has had its highs,
• WINAIR has had its lows,
• But, WINAIR has never been out.

Today WINAIR is one of the oldest regional airlines, servicing multiple destinations as a pillar of Princess Juliana Airport’s hub function, and offering employment opportunities for some 130 persons.
My confidence in WINAIR’s future as expressed in 1996 was grounded in the major role the carrier plays in the development of Juliana Airport and the economic development of Sint Maarten as well as in its critical contributions to the people and economies of St Eustatius, Saba and Sint Barths.

At this 55th anniversary celebration, twenty years since I addressed the gathering for the 35th anniversary as managing director, I am pleased to see that my optimism then was and continues to be justified. As a former managing director of WINAIR from 1995 to 1998 I am happy to know that I have been able to contribute to the storied history, of resilience and safety, of our national carrier, WINAIR.
Looking to the future and cognizant of the complexities of the aviation business, I believe that the future success of WINAIR lies first and foremost in the vision of its founding fathers which was later adopted by the Government of the Netherlands Antilles. That vision is that WINAIR is to function as the aerial umbilical cord that connects Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius and St. Barths and Saba. By continuing to build on this vision of providing a vital and necessary service I believe in WINAIR’s future and look forward – God’s willing –  to join you in 5, 10, 15 and 20 years from now to celebrate WINAIR’s 75th anniversary.

In closing, I therefore wish the WINAIR family many, many more years of safety in the air, with healthy and strong operations, in partnership with the communities of Sint Maarten and the islands of the North Eastern Caribbean. And with that I herewith once again, also on behalf of Marie-Louise, congratulate you with the celebration of your 55th anniversary. Congratulations!
Thank you and God bless you.