Published On: Tue, Jul 4th, 2023

Hans van de Velde succeeds Michael Cleaver at Winair

PHILIPSBURG — Hans van de Velde succeeds Michael Cleaver as Chief Executive Officer of Winair. Cleaver was at the helm of the airline for twelve years. He retired from his position per July 1, “leaving behind a legacy of operational excellence and transformative achievements,” the company writes in a press release.

Global consulting firm Deloitte led the search for Cleaver’s successor. The supervisory board announced the appointment of Van de Velde, “a seasoned airline specialist poised to lead Winair into an exciting future.”

Cleaver postponed his retirement twice when events impacted the island and the regional aviation sector. In November 2022 he announced his retirement per 2023. Deloitte’s recruitment process attracted 33 applicants who were “meticulously assessed against Winair’s specific requirements. The aim was to select a candidate who possessed a unique blend of leadership qualities to build upon the foundation laid by Mr. Cleaver and his dynamic executive team.”

That candidate is Hans van de Velde who started his career at Holtrop Ravesloot, a Dutch company that offers services in the fields of executive search, governance and advice. The new CEO worked during twenty years in several functions in the aviation and hospitality industries. As a managing director he was responsible for the expansion of airline ArkeFly, followed by an international career within the TUI-concern. He lived and worked with his family in Paris and Casablanca. Before he returned to Holtrop Ravesloot he was CEO of TUI France.

Van de Velde has a masters in business administration and an MSc in Air Transport Management from Cranfield University.

He now steps into the shoes of Michael Cleaver who, according to the Winair press release, “excelled as an operational leader. Working in close cooperation with the supervisory board, the Chief Financial Officer, the employees and all stakeholders he achieved profitability within one year.”

“When country St. Maarten inherited Winair, it was near insolvency and required thorough improvements in accounting, operations, communications and strategic direction,” Weaver states in the press release. “The transformation and resurrection of Winair was a true team effort that would not have been possible without the support of the newly appointed chairman George Greaux Jr., Chief Financial Officer Roberto Gibbs, and St. Maarten shareholder representative Michael Ferrier under Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams.”

Cleaver adds that he was fortunate to have had regular access to Winair’s founder Captain George Greaux Sr. “He imparted his knowledge and wisdom on many topics that gave me an invaluable introspect on the business.”

Cleaver praises the contribution of the airline’s employees. “After years of neglect by the previous shareholder they jumped into the fire and got the job done.”

Winair weathered the storms of Hurricane Irma and the corona pandemic. “Mr. Cleaver’s commitment and decisive actions ensured the continuity of operations and safeguarded the employees and customers during those trying times.”

The press release praises the launch of the airline’s ATR-operations as the crown on Cleaver’s career. The addition of two ATR-42 aircraft, mark a significant expansion of Winair’s fleet.

The supervisory board, together with employees and stakeholders extend their best wishes to their departing CEO. “Michael is the consummate professional you want on board to drive your business successfully,” the chairman of the board states in the press release. “He is tirelessly passionate in what he does. I will be forever grateful because he has taught me so much about the aviation business world.”