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Published On: Tue, May 4th, 2021

Schiphol alarmed about airport’s corporate governance

PHILIPSBURG -- Schiphol International director Kjell Kloosterziel expressed his “profound concerns” about the corporate governance of the Princess Juliana International Airport and about the airport holding. The letter is dated April 9 and addressed to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Ludmilla de Weever.

Kloosteriel’s letter echoes the concerns the Worldbank expressed earlier. Its director for Latin-America and the Caribbean Region Tahseen Sayed wrote in February to Prime Minister Jacobs that firing director Brian Mingo and sending the complete board of directors of the exploitation company (PJIAE) home “can result in the inability of the Royal Schiphol Group to continue its support for PJIAE.”

Related article: Airport holding puts reconstruction funding at risk

Sayed urged Jacob to undertake “every action to guarantee the continuous presence of adequate management and staff at PJIAE.” The holding company ignored this warning and fired Mingo in a shareholder's meeting on April 7.

The Schiphol Group is clearly not happy with these developments. “We have been informed by our staff supporting the Princess Juliana International Airport that they and other stakeholders have serious concerns on the governance of the airport and the process that has resulted in the termination of the CEO.”

Kloosterziel points out that proper governance of the airport “is critical for the airport, the reconstruction project and our continued support for the reconstruction project.”

He urges the government (though in the letter Kloosterziel phrases it as a “kindly request”) to inform the Schiphol Group about the governance of the airport, the process that has resulted in Mingo’s dismissal and to clarify its position about the concerns various stakeholders have raised about the airport’s governance.

Furthermore, Kloosteriel asks the government to provide information about any actions it intends to undertake as the airport’s ultimate shareholder “to rectify any historic lapses in proper corporate governance and to assure that proper corporate governance will be in place within a short time.”

Kloosterziel emphasizes the importance and urgency of the matter “given the potential impact on the airport and the reconstruction and our ability to continue our support to the airport during this critical time.”

Kloosterziel sent his letter to Prime Minister Jacobs and Minister De Weever on April 9 - by now more than a month ago. The government has made no public statements about Kloosterziel’s letter, but six days after it was sent, Jacobs said in a press release that the government will check whether proper procedures were followed with Mingo’s dismissal. The prime minister also stated that “adherence to corporate governance guidelines at Princess Juliana International Airport is a primary concern of the government when conducting policy towards its companies.”

The airport’s cooperation agreement with the Schiphol Group expires on August 1 and is therefore up for renewal.

In spite of the criticism from the World Bank and the Schiphol Group, Jacobs remained optimistic about the continued support from its two financing partners in her press statement:  “The government will ensure that the agreements with the World Bank and the European Investment Bank are upheld.”

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Related articles:
Letter Schiphol dated April 9, 2020
Government committed to the continuity of the Airport Terminal Reconstruction Project
Airport holding fires CEO Brian Mingo
Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs responds concerning leaked letter from World Bank
Airport holding puts reconstruction funding at risk
Opinion piece by Hilbert Haar: "In the doldrums"

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