SXM Airways wants to offer regional charter flightsPOSTED: 09/28/15 7:12 PM
Brison sees market for his startup
St. Maarten – SXM Airways is a new charter company that aims to offer charter services to destinations in the region. Managing Director Rolando Brison came up with the concept in 2010 when he began monitoring the trends of the market for on-demand travel. After a year and a half of monitoring the market and seeing projections exceeded, he decided to begin the journey of starting the charter company.
“I have a sister that works in aviation abroad, away from her family, and a brother who is in flight school abroad as well. I think it is always great to add more for future generations to stay here in St. Maarten to pursue my dreams to work and study in aviation rather than have to leave the island to attain these goals,” Brison commented.
SXM Airways intends to direct its attention on charters for private groups and individuals who seek to go to a destination on demand. “We have noticed the need for so many that traveled to the island by means of general aviation, their own aircraft, and are willing to go to other destinations by means of charter services. For this type of clients, scheduled service is not an option, they need to travel when they want and how they want and SXM Airways intends to be one option for this niche market,” Brison added.
The managing director says the charter company will be locally driven and operations would be very different from existing commercial airlines such as Liat and Insel Air. “Over the next four years some key destinations including Tortola, St. Barths, Anguilla, Nevis and nearby destinations have an aggregate projected growth of 6.5 percent. We are already experiencing the effect of this growth today, because of the large number of travelers that wish to travel to destinations but either cancel plans or decide to travel by boat; which is not their initial preference, due to the lack of availability to travel to their desired location at the times they request. This is particularly a problem from November to March,” says Brison. “Add to that the plans for the Fixed Base Operations building expansion and growth in our private jet sector locally, and it is clear that there will be a much higher demand for charters.”
The company owner shared some of the jet private surveys his team conducted, in which it shows the large majority of those surveyed feel that the island should have more charter service options.
One of the important initiatives the company hopes to achieve is to make a significant part of its shares available for purchase exclusively to locals, what may be the first publicly tradable company on the island. “The challenges I have had and am still facing today as a young local St. Maartener has opened my eyes to the difficulties in getting a business started on the island. Therefore I want to create possibilities for young entrepreneurs to take their first step into entrepreneurship by owning a portion of a charter company in St. Maarten and potentially be on its board of directors, elected by their fellow shareholders,” Brison said.
Despite having a small start-up of one or two aircraft, Brison sees value in allowing technical students to work alongside engineers to learn about aircraft maintenance. He intends to work closely with the National Institute for Professional Advancement (Nipa) and the St. Maarten Vocational Training School to allow students on a weekly basis to train with the company. “If we can train two students per week, which can lead to over one hundred students a year, we hope to open their eyes to careers in aeronautical engineering.”
The advice for the current business license of the company was evaluated by the Education Department.
The company is fully owned by locals and they plan to work towards locals benefiting from this company. “The educational and ownership we’ve outlined today are in the plans since I firmly believe that corporations on the island should always find ways to trickle down benefits to the people of St. Maarten, this is especially important and effective on a small island like ours. Even though our company is very small and will remain so in the foreseeable future, I would be very proud when we can touch the lives of dozens of young students and entrepreneurs aspiring careers in aviation and the ambitions of locals who aspire to get into the aviation business,” the company owner said.
SXM Airways wants the opportunity to tell the public more about its venture through parliament and has requested a meeting to give an outline of what the company is all about and give more insight into its plans. In a letter dated September 21, Brison requested an audience with parliament to give a 30-minute presentation. He hopes to inform the Transportation committee about the market analysis of the current state of aviation in the region, the operations model of SXM Airways as a charter carrier for the island and the region and the plans for the education sector including flight training and internships with local education institutions.
SXM Airways hopes to start its operations in the coming tourist season. As far as investors are concerned, the 30-year-old Brison says, “We are still evaluating investment options today. Since the start up of the company is small, the startup capital is also very relatively small. More important than investment is that we comply with all of the regulations of Civil Aviation as they are charged with making sure the company is able to operate safely and sustainably within our region.”