17 JANUARY 2017
THE HAGUE/SABA–The Saba Government has received the green light for commercial helicopter landings, Saba Commissioner in charge of aviation and infrastructure affairs Bruce Zagers said on Monday.
Zagers had a good meeting with representatives of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment I&M and the Dutch Inspectorate of Civil Aviation on Monday, when Saba was given the formal clearance for commercial helicopter traffic during daylight hours. With the official approval, these helicopters in principle can land on Saba.
Saba regularly receives requests from helicopter operators to carry out charters to Saba and from mega-yacht owners for helicopter landings at Juancho Yrausquin Airport. Until now, Saba did not have permission to allow these flights.
Saba has already complied with the necessary requirements. “It has been a lengthy process. We had to meet certain conditions and take a number of measures for the airport to be used for commercial helicopter flights,” Zagers told The Daily Herald on Monday. Medical emergency evacuations by helicopter are already a possibility in Saba.
“I am very glad that we will now be able to accommodate commercial helicopter flights. It provides us more options to develop tourism; it will stimulate economic growth and Saba’s development. This shows that we are making progress and confirms the good relations with the I&M Ministry and the Inspectorate of Aviation,” Zagers said.
Consultation with the Dutch Government continues on allowing a grace period for the take-off time of the last daily flight of Windward Airways International Winair. Permission is sought by the Saba Government to grant Winair a 15-minute slot after sunset so the last flight can take off a bit later than is currently allowed.
The sun sets earlier during the winter, which can complicate the take-off of the last flight, especially when it is extremely busy at St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport SXM during the high season and it is harder for Winair to get flights out in time.
The Saba runway has lights, so darkness does not hamper a flight from taking off slightly after sunset. Extending the take-off slot by 15 minutes would not only give Winair more leeway in executing flights to Saba, but would also be more convenient for Sabans going to St. Maarten for shopping and medical purposes.
Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten