Curaçao Island


from KLM to DCA—and on

Down With National Carriers!

The continuing story of KLM's West-Indisch Bedrijf after it was taken over by the Antillean government as ALM Antillean Airlines, changed to DCA Dutch Caribbean Airlines, finally bankrupted before another change to Curaçao Air Lines.
The struggle that followed for control of the market.

Curaçao Hato Airport

January 2006
Gelt Dekker writes a column

Jacob Gelt Dekker, the guy who knows best about as good as everything (just like Asjes, but at least one of them has to be wrong) writes a Luchtvaartnieuws column in which he, more but hardly less, announces how the entire Antillean government and all Antillean airlines are involved with drugs. Leeflang and Comenencia comment, sort of: There's something wrong with his head. Maybe, but Tact certainly is a long way from being what you'd call discernible. Gelt Dekker mentions how Leeflang brags about giving out four airline economic operating licenses in 2004 to operators he suggests are doubtful, omitting the fact that he himself was involved with at least one of them (PIAS).

March 2006
Still no news whatsoever on the bankruptcy of DCA and alleged fraud. Granted, it must be an awful mess; but delaying tactics can only be much to the advantage of guys like Mario Evertsz and Maria Liberia Peters. To name but a few.
InselAir announces they're ready to start operating between Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire. Virtually simultaneously, DAE starts advertising for personnel and announces acquiring F100s for the middle-distance routes.

June 2006
CAP/Alterra announces a delay of five weeks in opening the new terminal. DAE will probably move operations from Bonaire to Curaçao. Martinair Holland announces new flights AMS-CUR from November 2006; Delta is considering resuming flights from the USA.
All hotels are now running at a very good capacity, showing once again that DCA did not fulfill its main task of bringing tourists to the island.
Because of expensive security since 9/11, Hato Airport (CAP) wants an increased Airport Tax of over US$25 (still lower, they say, than Aruba and St. Maarten); if this is not allowed, CAP will charge airlines more for landing rights.

July 2006
New terminal is opened; airlines refuse to move to new building and start legal procedures against CAP; appeal upon loss. Airport Tax is raised to $32.

August 2006
Avior starts flights CAR-CUR; Insel-Air gets an operating license and opens flights AUA-CUR.

September 2006
KLM opens a new office next to the former ALM catering building.
Bonaire deputy Booi announces that when Insel-Air will start 3 weekly flights CUR-SXM with an MD-82, DAE will stop their twice-daily flights on that route. However, DAE states they do not plan to quit, only to change opinion again after Insel-Air gets a license for 3, maybe 4, weekly CUR-SXM flights in cooperation with SLM. But once again, one day later InselAir postpones flights, and so DAE announces flights will be continued at its ANG30-120 lower prices. Makes you dizzy.
What will happen now in the combination KLM-DAE versus InselAir could still be of mighty interest. To start, DAE demands cancellation of InselAir's license for SXM flights with SLM. This should have been in court on September 19, 90 minutes before the first InselAir flight is supposed to leave, but InselAir asked and got a postponement. The judge finally forbid the InselAir-SLM flights. (SLM Curaçao said a regular MD82 aircraft A-check ran into delays, but denied rumors of technical problems which, however, were admitted by SLM maintenance in Surinam: The aircraft by the end of the week was still not available for the inaugural flight.) More news on this. DAE sent another letter to the judge, stating that the SXM-CUR route is not even mentioned in InselAir's economic license and so cannot possibly be licensed by the minister. Meanwhile, that minister retracted the InselAir license to fly with a foreign company because their own MD-82 would be arriving in the first week of October. By half October it had not arrived yet and there was talk of a delay of several months. Looks like we, indeed, with InselAir have got a perfect replacement for DCA. InselAir calls the ongoing juridical fight by DAE a form of intimidation.

There are only two Venezuelan airlines allowed to land on USA airports, and those are Aeropostal and Santa Barbara Airlines. This is because of US safety regulations. If you are worried about flying with aircraft registered in Venezuela, you have a very legitimate concern. I cannot even comprehend how Aeropostal, a company I will never fly with again, was licensed for USA-flights. The same applies to Avior and to SLM's MD82, also serviced in Venezuela to Venezuelan standards. InselAir's Embraer aircraft, of course, is registered in Venezuela as well.

CTB director Clifton Wallé, at an international aviation congress held in Curaçao, held a speech strongly deploring all political influence in airlines, which result in a regional drama: Caribbean airlines are among the world's worst performers.
Continental, flying Newark-CUR, has had an occupancy rate of 70%, so does not need the 60% guarantee any more. Wallé jumps to the conclusion that we need more hotel capacity when Continental is thinking about a second weekly flight, but nobody tells us how many of those seats are occupied by Antilleans - who don't need a hotel room at all.

December 2006
InselAir is still trying to get 'their' AdriaticAir MD83 to Curaçao. Could be any year now, they say. We always keep our word--We said we would have one three months after our first Embraer arrived, and we will. That aircraft arrived on June 3, which now already is 7 months ago. Small wonder they get along so fine with our politicians. (To give them their due, they only started flying September 2 - in my reckoning, 4 months ago).
The MD-83, registration PJ-MDA, is expected on Curaçao on 24 December. InselAir 'expects to start flying former Caribbean DCA-routes early January 2007' - with one MD83.

Finally the MD83 did arrive, and InselAir wants to open a route to St. Maarten in the first week of 2007. DAE immediately went to court as InselAir has a license for flights to Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire and the Caribbean. DAE felt it's not for nothing St. Maarten and the other (still) Netherlands Antilles are not mentioned; InselAir felt St. Maarten is in the Caribbean. The judge felt InselAir was right.
Rumors have it InselAir and DAE are considering cooperation, but DAE announces arrival of one Fokker F-100 jet, mid-January 2007; another one will arrive two weeks later. HQ will be relocated in Curaçao.

what went on before:

West Indian Division

Antilliaanse Luchtvaart Maatschappij

Dutch Caribbean Airlines

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