THE HAGUE – Members of the Dutch second chamber of parliament Aukje de Vries and Rudmer Heerema, both from the liberal-democratic party VVD, asked for clarification late last week on reports that Windward Islands Airways International Winair Still in serious financial trouble and in need of another loan from the Dutch government.
In a press release issued on May 28, Winair announced that negotiations were underway with the Dutch government to secure a second loan. According to Winair, additional financial support was needed for the airline “to rebuild its operations and return to a certain degree of normalcy”.
The media highlighted this brief part in the press release drawn up on possible industrial action and the airline’s financial situation, which prompted MPs to submit written questions to the interim Minister of Infrastructure and Management. water Cora van Nieuwenhuizen and the Acting Secretary of State. of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops.
The Dutch government, which holds an 8% stake in Winair, announced on December 31, 2020 that it had approved a $ 3 million mortgage loan for Winair. The airline is in dire financial straits due to drastically reduced flight capacity in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The loan was granted at this time in order to safeguard the links with Saint-Eustache and Saba.
MEPs de Vries and Heerema wanted to know whether it was correct that Winair was negotiating with the Netherlands again for additional financial support. “What is the financing need for the coming period? What is the state of affairs at Winair, the negotiations and what conditions are being set?
MEPs further asked how the Dutch government, in the event of a new loan, would ensure that the money was properly used and whether there would again be collateral in the form of collateral. Winair’s head office has been placed as collateral for the first mortgage loan of US $ 3 million.
“What financial support has Winair received from the Netherlands in the context of the coronavirus crisis, and possibly also before the period of the coronavirus? How were these funds deployed? How was the proper use of these funds ensured? Why were these funds ultimately not sufficient? What is the contract with the main building of Winair as a guarantee? How were good governance and management regulated at Winair?
MEPs asked what the consequences would be for connectivity to Statia and Saba in the event of Winair’s bankruptcy. “Do you agree with the view that Winair is of great importance for connections between and to the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom? What would be the financial consequences for the Netherlands of a bankruptcy of Winair?
De Vries and Heerema have announced plans to establish a ferry connection between the three Windward Islands, for which the Netherlands has made funding available and which was initially due to start in mid-2021. “What is the delay due to the coronavirus crisis? Can you guarantee that the ferry connection can start as soon as the islands reopen so that tourism can restart? “
MEPs finally asked the Minister and the Secretary of State to indicate their vision for the future regarding the participation of the Dutch government as a minority shareholder of Winair. The Saint-Martin government owns the remaining 92 percent of Winair’s shares.