The Flying Bottomless Pit

Marjo Nederlof's review of DCA's CUR-AMS flights
Amigoe, and more power to her.

2001   JulyCityBirdNetherlands
2004JanuarySobelAir bankrupt
negotiations with:   Air HollandNetherlands
Dutch BirdNetherlands
February?   flights continued:   Air Atlanta IcelandicIceland
May-June?   Air LuxorPortugal
June-July?Euro Atlantic Airways   Portugal
-My Travel AirwaysUnited Kingdom
-Royal JordanianJordan

some background:

Citybird went bankrupt in October 2001.

Sobelair, a division of Sabena, stopped operations when Sabena went bankrupt with Swissair.

Air Atlanta Icelandic only had 767-200s available, which necessitated an expensive fuel stop on the Azores or, alternatively, flying with 50 seats empty. When they got a better aircraft, they preferred to lease it to a customer who was more up to date with payments.

Only after arrival in Jordania of DCA crews for training, it turned out Royal Jordanian had old TriStars, only good for freight.
Good planning! Sorry: No Comment.

Both TriStars operated by Air Luxor had to abort a take-off because of engine trouble, one on Schiphol Airport after rotation during take-off. Both aircraft have been obstructing the runways on both airports for days.
During the Tri-Star's take-off from Schiphol for repairs in Portugal, one engine exploded and was a total loss.
The other one was then, 1 August 2004, still sitting at Hato Airport awaiting a daredevil crew to fly her to Trinidad, where BWIA knew how to handle TriStars. It was finally flown out in September; nobody seems to know or care with what destination - good riddance.
Note:The Lockheed TriStar, while with it's Rolls-Royce engines very expensive in fuel consumption, is generally acknowledged to be one of the most reliable aircraft of it's generation.

JAT was not allowed to land at Schiphol Airport because their DC-10 had no bullet-proof cockpit door.
In all fairness, this does sound like mere pettiness of Schiphol authorities; this was a risk-free flight, exclusively transporting scholarship students to Holland. But they just might have used that as an excuse, not trusting the reliability of the JAT DC-10.

Holland Exel started their own CUR-AMS service in July.
It has been suggested that many problems on the CUR-AMS route started when the number of passengers dropped drastically since a body-scanner was installed on Curaçao Hato airport to stop bolita smugglers from flying to Amsterdam (they swallow condoms filled with cocaine before they leave, a dangerous thing to do.)

Weeks after DCA reduced weekly CUR-AMS flights from 5 to 2, by early August many passengers stranded in Holland were in financial difficulties. European law obliges DCA to put them up in a hotel and feed them, but DCA claimed force majeure as "they had no budget." About 3000 passengers were reported to be stuck in Amsterdam or Curaçao; in the last week of October 2004, 300 pieces of luggage were still waiting at Schiphol airport and 109 in Miami. It finally cost of $580 per suitcase to get it to Curaçao.
(Florida Express charged $80 per suitcase for shipping sea freight. An AA round trip MIA-CUR cost $234, including two suitcases, which goes to show you what a rip-off freight tariffs are. The newspaper article doesn't say so, but you may confidently add $15 Curaçao handling charges plus, over the freight, customs duty and finally OB sales tax, making it a what you'd call Grand Total of over $110. If (those customs are ruthless) you don't have to pay custom duties on those $500 Miami airport charged as well - $20/day/suitcase just for holding it. That's just about what they will charge you in Curaçao for holding your car. By December 1, they will destroy all suitcases still in Miami.)

More than a month after DCA completely stopped CUR-AMS flights, 100 passengers to Amsterdam were still stuck in Curaçao. They were getting seats on HollandExel flights as these became available. DCA personnel at Hato Airport at one point had to hide in the office, with airport security guards breaking up what promised to grow into a full-blown riot. 40 passengers stuck in Curaçao were kicked out of the Van der Valk Plaza Hotel as DCA could not pay the bill. Holland and Curaçao consumer unions started actions to force DCA to keep to their contract.

The Nederlandse Consumentenbond [Dutch Consumers Union] stated that the Dutch ministry of transport, while required to check the guarantees for solvibility of both Air Holland and DCA, had failed to do so and thus carried responsibility.

During all those years, DCA kept cockpit crews on salary (cost ANG3M over 2003)
just in case they might be able to lease a plane without crew for the mid Atlantic route.

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