Reader’s Letter: Unfair KLM prices

POSTED: 01/27/14 12:48 PM

Dear Editor,

We, founders of Facebook page ‘Unfair KLM ticket prices SXM – AMS’ (www.facebook.com/unfairklmticketprices), were not quite sure who to address this letter to. We know there is something really wrong, but we are not quite sure where to find the hitch. So what is the hitch?

KLM passengers with destination Sint Maarten pay roughly 150 – 200 dollars per person more than their fellow passengers who deplane in Curacao. Same goes for passengers departing from these 2 islands. This is a structural issue, regardless the time of booking, the time of flying and the amount of seats booked. To make things worse for the residents of both French and Dutch Sint Maarten, Sint Maarten is never part of the wonderful KLM World Deal Weeks. KLM Dutch Caribbean offers these great deals only from Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba. Why is Sint Maarten never included? We couldn’t really wrap our heads around it, it is one plane that arrives on our beautiful island first, to stop and refuel in Curacao before it goes back to the cold in Amsterdam. Your first hunch would be that KLM is to blame, wouldn’t it?

We thought so too, and still think so to be honest. KLM comes with the same general explanation, price differentiation, flexibility (??), demand and offer etc etc. A lot of words that basically say, more people go to Curacao. Ok, we get that, but not more people go to Bonaire or Aruba, and if more people go to our other Dutch Islands, aren’t the high fares for Sint Maarten the cause, and not the consequence of a smaller demand? Kind of like the egg and chicken, which one was first? And then again, it does not in any way shape or form explain why Sint Maarten is excluded from any deals period. Even not so popular products on the supermarket shelves go on sale sooner or later.

But maybe it’s not (just) KLM. We tried to obtain the airport fees. Sint Maartens fees are well hidden we can tell you that! We only found fees from 2008. Comparing SXM fees with the other Dutch Caribbean airport fees really blew us away like the 747 jet blast at Maho. We all know how much damage that can do. It costs around US$ 11.000 (2008 prices) to land and depart a Boeing 747 on Sint Maarten. So are our airport fees the cause? Or is KLM not dividing these costs between all passengers in this Boeing 747 equally? We all landed here, we can at least share it all. 50 people do not need a 747 after all.

Maybe our lack of marketing is the cause. We do not have any insight in this. We did hear the lack of funds budgeted for Tourism, but aren’t we biting ourselves in the behind by this? Tourism is practically our only source of income, we need to cherish it! We feel KLM is profiting from us, simply because they can.  They do not have any competition.  Airfrance is the only other company flying to Sint Maarten from Amsterdam and we all know KLM and Airfrance are partners. Their prices are basically the same, a US$ 25 difference here and there.  As far as we know, price fixing is illegal.

Straighten up KLM, reduce the airport fee, and/or promote Sint Maarten at other airlines. Price reductions have been promised to the public since 2012 and again in summer 2013. We did not see any difference and we are in 2014 already. What happened during these last meetings between the involved parties, honourable Minister of Economic Affairs, KLM and Princess Juliana International Airport?

We are confused, please help us out. We don’t want to sound like whining school children, but we do believe we – the residents and visitors of Sint Maarten – deserve a decent explanation. How many of you have children studying in Holland and hardly see them? How many of you are missing family members? How many visitors did we miss out on these last years, simply because they rather save money and go to Curacao, Bonaire or Aruba instead? Especially if you have kids you can easily save US$ 1000,- on tickets alone, just by deplaning on the next island. Our Facebook page received 2500 likes in 2 days, so we are not standing alone in this matter.

Perhaps honourable Minister of Economic Affairs Mr. Richardson can make a difference, or perhaps the director of Princess Juliana Airport, or is it simply KLM that needs to make a change? For all clarity, this letter wasn’t written to point fingers, this letter was written to solve problems. If you have any information that might help us, you can also send us an email on unfairticketprices@gmail.comEspecially the Ministry, Airport and KLM invited to share their inside information with us. Join us in our quest for decent answers and moreover our quest for fairer airfares, like us on www.facebook.com/unfairklmticketprices.

Best regards,

Team unfair KML ticket prices

 

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