Today’s report that KLM will be taking over the TUI flights to Princess Juliana International Airport SXM next winter is not good news. The reason given about creating more capacity on TUI’s service to Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao would seem to indicate a strategic choice by the carrier for those islands over St. Maarten.
Whether the number of seats on the route will drop significantly remains to be seen However, TUI currently comes twice weekly while KLM has so far announced the addition of only one flight starting in November.
The biggest concern is the lack of competition. Flying via Paris is always an option, but with Air France and KLM having merged no major price wars can realistically be expected between them.
One possible advantage is that while the current TUI flights return via Curacao, those of KLM go back to Amsterdam non-stop. The latter will obviously be favoured by most travellers in terms of spending considerably less time on a plane.
Nevertheless, local tourism authorities would do well to intensify their efforts to get new airlift out of European countries, including the Netherlands and neighbouring countries like Belgium and Germany, but also Scandinavia and Great Britain. The island’s excellent connections to major US cities can be an advantage in that sense as well.
In adversity usually also lies opportunity.