St Maarten and DR resolve differences over Winair

The ban on Dominican airlines flying to Saint Maarten has been retracted. It was agreed that St. Maarten airline, Windward Islands Airways International (Winair) will apply for the required permit to reinstate its flights to the Dominican Republic, as reported in The Daily Herald of St. Maarten. Winair is allowed to continue to fly to the Dominican Republic.

The announcement is made after it was announced that Dominican airlines would be banned to fly to St. Maarten by 31 August 2022. Now the St. Maarten Civil Aviation Authority (SMCAA) reveals that it has come to an agreement with its Dominican counterpart, the Civil Aviation Board (JAC) and all flights will continue in the coming months.

“We believe a solution has been found avoiding any disruption of services to the traveling public, while also providing choice of airlines to the customer,” Winair Chief Executive Officer Michael Cleaver announced. He thanked St. Maarten Civil Aviation Authority director Louis Halley and Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Omar Ottley for “their guidance and leadership.”

Ottley sent out a press release around midnight Monday, 1 August 2022, stating that he had learnt of the decision taken by SMCAA early that day banning all Dominican flights as of 6 August 2022.

“It appears the decision was in reaction to the civil aviation authority of the Dominican Republic blocking Windward Island Airways from offering airline services between the Dominican Republic and St. Maarten,” Ottley said in the press release.

“The retaliatory decision created the risk that many passengers would have been left stranded in St. Maarten and the Dominican Republic.”

Ottley extended the 5 August deadline set by SMCAA until the end of the month, 31 August 2022. After that date St. Maarten would suspend all authorization of Dominican air operators to enter St. Maarten territory, if the Dominican Republic still would not allow Winair to offer commercial services.

The Dominican civil aviation authority Junta de Aviacion Civil (JAC) responded on the same day with an elaborate explanation in which it explicitly referred to agreements made between the two countries. First of all, JAC stated: “It should be noted that in accordance with paragraph 3 of Article 3 of the air transport agreement signed between the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with respect to St Maarten and the Dominican Republic, and their respective territories, dated 13 May 2019, it should be noted: that Upon receipt of the operating authorization referred to in paragraph 2 of this article, a designated airline may, at any time, begin to operate the agreed services, in whole or in part, provided that it complies with the applicable provisions of this agreement and the internal regulations of each of the parties.”

In the letter, JAC draws attention to its own internal regulations stating that while there is no doubt that Winair has been designated to operate to the Dominican Republic, “Winair has not applied for the required Operating Permit for Foreign Air Operators that empowers it to perform regular operations, which are described in the Manual of Requirements of the Junta de Aviacion Civil, JAC-001, so it follows from there that it has not complied with the internal regulations of the Dominican Republic for this type of regular operations.”

After further explanation of the applicable guidelines with regard to airlines such as Winair that do not have their own aircraft, but hire them with crew, JAC stated: “By way of background, we indicate that the foreign air operator Windward Island Airways International has been recurrent in the request for the commercialization of tickets for charter flights in the Dominican Republic and on more than one occasion the Junta de Aviacion Civil has indicated that they must obtain an operating permit for regular flights, which is stated in the resolutions. With an operating permit, such an operator may market its tickets.”

Pending Winair’s application for an operating permit, JAC had already approved Winair on 13 July to operate a total of 21 charter flights to the Dominican Republic in the period 7 July to 30 August 2022.

In his letter of 1 August 2022, JAC president Jose Ernesto Marte Paintini once again pointed out how Winair can apply for a Permiso de Operaciones, what form must be completed for this and what documents (copies) must be attached.

“The Dominican Republic, as a signatory to the International Civil Aviation Convention, recognises that the future development of international civil aviation contributes powerfully to creating and preserving friendship and understanding among nations, so that, through the agreement between the parties, the safe and orderly development is guaranteed on a basis of equal opportunities for international air transport services,” JAC chairman Marte Piantini wrote.

“In order to continue the commercial air relations between our countries, we remain in their disposition to hold meetings between the parties, with a view to clarifying the foundations of the decision of the Dominican Republic in accordance with its internal regulations for non-regular or charter flights.”

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The Daily Herald

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