Ferrier Commission reviewing situation at WINAIRPOSTED: 11/25/10 11:25 PM
St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams has announced that urgent attention is being given to amongst other things the financial situation at Windward Islands Airways International (WINAIR). She’s tasked Former Aviation Affairs Commissioner Michael Ferrier, who also chaired WINAIR’s Board to lead the process for her on coming to the current situation and negotiating the island’s involvement in the company.
An unofficial committee of people with aviation and legal backgrounds that he consults with backs Ferrier as he deals with the point person from the Netherlands, who represents Saba and St. Eustatius’ stake in WINAIR. In their work parties are examining the various reports made about the company in order to come to that accurate position. Ahead of that the Prime Minister has asked that the critical issues be addressed.
“One of the areas that is definitely in need of attention is the company’s finances and then that in itself brings in more issues that need to be considered including the issue of the company’s long lease,” Wescot-Williams said.
Another area that must be handled quickly is the transfer of the shares of WINAIR. The Prime Minister said that even though there was “a lot of talk” about the agreement that gave St. Maarten the majority stake and gave Saba & S t. Eustatius golden shares no action was taken to officially transfer the shares. The caretaker, five day Executive Council, which Ferrier was also a part of, did write the outgoing and now defunct Antillean Council of Ministers in the week of October 4 requesting that they transfer the shares.
“Some how though as the Dutch put it WINAIR fell between the ship and pier. So it ended up in the water and right now it is important that we come to a clear understanding of what is happening with WINAIR,” the Prime Minister said.
The shareholder representative in the former Antillean cabinet is the current Minister of Justice Roland Duncan.
Ferrier was not ready to discuss his survey on Wednesday or the meeting he had with the Dutch government’s point person on behalf of Saba & St. Eustatius. He said he preferred to do things “properly” and submit his report to the Prime Minister.
WINAIR’S Managing Director Edwin Hodge also did not want to give details beyond confirming that he has been in communication with Ferrier and that he’ll be meeting with the committee either today or Friday. He also confirmed that he met with “two levels of the Dutch government” and that current efforts to determine the situation at the airline company tie in with a research request that was tabled by former Dutch Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings. The former Minister wanted to know the company’s position as he continued planning the future of transport on Saba and St. Eustatius and because he would have to defend their interests in talks with St. Maarten.
In response to questions Hodge added, “WINAIR has always had critical issues and these will remain critical until they are solved. Yes our finances are one and has been something that needed attention for a while.”