SOL Manager replies to Ferrier’s complaints

POSTED: 03/24/11 12:32 PM

“We’re committed the island’s growth, not to harming it.”

St. Maarten – SOL Antilles NV has strongly objected strongly to the views expressed by local businessman and pilot Michael Ferrier who said that he was disgusted with the way how the fuel services was handled at the Princess Juliana International Airport by SOL Antilles. He has accused SOL of ripping off its clients which is seriously damaging the reputation of the island as a tourist destination.

“We are committed to provide quality products and service to its customers and remains committed to the development of the aviation industry and St. Maarten as a whole,” General Manager of SOL Antilles David Antrobus said in a statement.

Antrobus added that as a regional company SOL has uniform policies across all its areas of operation, and does not extend preferential treatment to any market. He explained further that that a monopoly does not exist on the importation, distribution and sale of Aviation Jet fuel (AVJET) on St. Maarten, since both SOL and Chevron independently and competitively sell AVJET at the airport.

“This very high cost product reduces each year as the newer aircraft convert to AVJET fuel as a result of this declining trend may of the multinational suppliers of AVGAS withdrew from this business many years ago and required that the single remaining supplier continue to sell the product making it an uneconomic product,” Antrobus explained.

The company director also explained there’s a shortage of AVGAS because the ISO container was damaged in transit to St. Maarten and had to be returned to the supplier. There is only a small quantity of AVGAS that is sold at the Princess Juliana International Airport and so only one container is imported at a time. To ensure that there are supply alternative arrangements were made to have a replacement container shipped from Tortola and the product has been available again since March 21.

“Even though there are efforts to ensure that there is uninterrupted supply of AVJET fuel from time to time there are interruptions by shipping and supply sources, bad weather and industrial actions,” Antrobus said as he admitted that there has been a shortage of AVJET in recent times.

“This was due to the unavoidable delays in shipping, the most recent being as a result of industrial actions at the Petrotrin Refinery in Trinidad and an additional un-forecasted demand which was related to the to the diversion of aircraft at the VC Bird International Airport in Antigua. That resulted in the recent stock shortage in the neighboring islands including St. Maarten,” Antrobus further outlined.

The pricing structure on aviation fuel varies in each market based on the FOB price for AVJET and AVGAS. Transportation, taxes, duties, import levies and the price on the date that the product was purchased all have a bearing on the price. Even though there is no import duty on aviation fuel into St. Maarten there is a port fee and an airfield surcharge fee by the Princess Juliana International Airport on all oil products and Turnover Tax on all domestic aviation fuel sales.

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