Ferrier blasts price gouging and lack of service by Sol Aviation

POSTED: 03/21/11 6:04 PM

St. Maarten – Michael Ferrier expressed his outrage over the way Sol Aviation handles fuel services at Princess Juliana International airport in a letter dated March 20. Ferrier, best known as the president of the Democratic Party and the owner of Napa, is also a private pilot who flies a Piper Navajo with the registration number N-555MF.

“You have a monopoly on fuel sales at our only international airport and your service (or rather, lack of service) shows that you do not care about St. Maarten’s image as an international destination in the Eastern Caribbean,” Ferrier wrote to regional director Stewart Gill in Barbados.

Ferrier complains that Sol charges $7.87 for a gallon of Avgas, while the same product retails to pilots in Anguilla for $6.40 – a price that includes import duties.

Ferrier states that he spoke on several occasions with Andrew Lowe of Sol about the discrepancies between the Avgas price in duty free St. Maarten and that on surrounding islands like Anguilla, St. Croix and Puerto Rico. “Avgas is consistently more expensive in St. Maarten and I am convinced that if you had competition on the PJIA field, this would not be the case. Sol Aviation is not only what I consider ripping off its clients, but in the process it is seriously damaging our reputation as a tourist destination.”

Ferrier also complains that “apart from price gouging” Sol Aviation is “managing its supplies so poorly that practically every fourteen days there is no Jet-A fuel available at our international airport. As I write this, there is no Avgas or Jet-A fuel available at PJIA.”

Ferrier states that this is causing serious damage to the economy, “as the owners of many of the private jets that usually come to St. Maarten are now forced to find other destinations in the Eastern Caribbean to transit to smaller aircraft destinations such as St. Barths and Anguilla.”

The DP-president points out that “the former multitude of Brazilian aircraft ferry pilots that were using St. Maarten as a fuel stop, are now going to St. Kitts and Anguilla because of the constant fuel shortages and prices that have gone through the roof.”

Ferrier expresses some dark thoughts about Sol’s possible motives in his letter. “I would hate to think that because Sol is based in Barbados, a competitor of St. Maarten in the multi-billion dollar tourism industry, sol aviation is deliberately perpetrating these actions in an effort to kill our tourism business.

Ferrier accuses the Barbados based company of pricing St. Maarten out of the market “because of your monopolistic position at the Princess Juliana International Airport, added to the fact that Sol Aviation constantly and repeatedly runs out of fuel.” This, Ferrier wrote, is damaging to St. Maarten’s reputation in the aviation and tourism world.

For this reason he sent copies of his letter to the media, to Prime Minister Wescot-Williams, ministers Heyliger and Meyers, the secretary general of economic and tourism affairs Miguel de Weever, the director of the Tourism Bureau Regina Labega, airport director Larry Donkers, and five aviation companies.


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