18 May 2017
AIRPORT–SXM Airways Managing Director Elvis Queeley is losing faith in the promises of local Civil Aviation head Lou Halley and Minister of Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher who have been sitting on SXM Airways’ request for far too long now.
The process started in June 2015 when the company turned in documentation requesting an air operator’s certificate from the Department of Civil Aviation. Eight weeks in, Civil Aviation informed the company that it had to add more information about its financial backers.
This was done and the SXM Airways team re-submitted the request three weeks later. Civil Aviation in turn handed the documents to the Central Bank, which had to provide a full evaluation of the company.
“Central Bank informed SXM Airways that the business plan was good, but the balance financial sheet was lacking some important information and the company has to rectify it,” stated Queeley.
The team took about two months to again re-submit documentation to Civil Aviation, which took months to give the company a clear answer about the status of its request.
The Daily Herald has contacted Halley on several occasions since the processing of the request. Halley said on one occasion that the computer viruses that attacked Government’s systems had slowed down communications between the Central Bank and his office. He then stated two months later that the evaluation was completed and his office was awaiting the documentation from the Central Bank.
Halley told this newspaper in April that the process was completed, but he was waiting on a final document from the Central Bank.
“We were told that investigations concerning Central Bank’s President Emsley Tromp and documents being confiscated by authorities had to do with the delay of hearing whether the documentation was okay or not,” said Queeley. “Just last week we finally heard that the Central Bank has completed its evaluation and it will be sent to Minister of Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher for completion.”
This newspaper understands that the Minister is presently requesting that Civil Aviation obtain a letter from Central Bank stating that it agrees with the advice. SXM Airways fears that this process will take another two years to complete. The Minister refuses to sign off on the advice until she receives a letter from Central Bank.
“What makes it even more frustrating is that we were contacted by Civil Aviation today, Wednesday, and told that we need to come in to discuss more details about our request. Enough is enough. On June 7, it would be two years since we submitted our request. What is really going on at our Civil Aviation Department?” asked Queeley, who is already threatening legal action.
“I hope the Minister can finally sign off the permit request, as we have complied with all requests from Civil Aviation and Central Bank. The law is clear that Civil Aviation cannot share any documents with third parties, but we did everything by the book; therefore, we had no issue with Civil Aviation asking the Central Bank to evaluate us.”
SXM Airways is a new charter company that wants to offer charter services to destinations in the region.
Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten