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Caribbean-On-Line / St. Barts / Transportation / What's up with Winair?

What's up with Winair?

There is good news and bad news regarding WinAir, currently the most important carrier between St Barth and St Maarten.

WinAir recently announced an agreement with the U.S. carrier Continental Airlines in which passengers of both airlines will be issued one e-ticket and their luggage will be checked through to St Barth. WinAir also provides e-ticketing agreements with KLM, Delta, US Airways and Air France. The International Air Transportation Association requires that the airline industry be 100% e-ticket compatible by the end of 2007. WinAir will comply with this requirement by the end of April 2007, allowing them to save money on the costs incurred by the conventional paper ticket.

WinAir continues to have financial problems and employee dissatisfaction. The Parliament in St Maarten will meet today or tomorrow to discuss issues of safety, staff turnover and the reason for the recent increase in ticket prices. Because of financial problems, staff turnover has been high in key positions such as pilots, mechanics, passenger handling, maintenance and accounting. Also, luggage is frequently left behind, especially in Saba and St. Eustatius. Because of the shortage of pilots (the airline has 32 of the needed 37), the flight schedule has been modified and some routes have been outsourced. Thus far, flights to and from St Barth have not been affected. Managing Director Edwin Hodge assures everyone that safety is not being compromised, noting that WinAir is constantly being audited by the Antillean Directorate of Civil Aviation and is audited every two years by its code-share partner US Airways. US Airways rates the maintenance procedures and inspections "as good as any major airline." He also states that the higher ticket prices are due to the increased costs associated with the new airport in St Maarten. We can only hope that WinAir can straighten out its financial problems and continue to remain the airline of choice between St Maarten and St Barth. As always, its employees on St Barth continue to be helpful and polite.

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