Published On: Tue, Jun 1st, 2021

Schiphol’s continued assistance at the airport still hangs in the balance

PHILIPSBURG — Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs stated in a press release dated May 30 that the Royal Schiphol Group has “confirmed their willingness to continue with the cooperation and support at the airport seeing that the shareholder is living up to its responsibilities to address the corporate governance issues at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA). But a letter from Schiphol International director Kjell Kloosterziel dated May 27 tells a different story.

Kloosterziel refers to his letters from April 9 and May 6 and to a meeting with Jacobs on May 27, saying that he is “encouraged by the commitment (….) to rectify any governance violations and to ensure good governance at the airport as soon as possible.”

On May 6, Kloosterziel wrote that Schiphol will terminate its cooperation unless the airport repairs shortcomings in corporate governance by May 26. He mentioned in particular violations of good governance at the airport holding company, where director Dexter Doncher in the meantime has been suspended.

State Secretary Raymond Knops wrote on May 12 to Jacobs that he had put the payment of the fifth tranche of liquidity support on hold – a decision that in the meantime has been ratified by the Kingdom Council of Ministers. In this letter Knops also referred to corporate governance violations at the airport, identifying the director of the holding (Dexter Doncher) and two other members of its supervisory board (Glenn Daniel and Rochelle Hodge) as the guilty party.

According to Knops, these board members “forced their own decisions” while they left the representative of the Schiphol Group (James Fazio) out of the loop. Since Doncher’s suspension, Daniel is acting as chairman of this board. It is unclear what Kloosterziel thinks about this intervention at the holding company.

The possibility that Schiphol will terminate its assistance at the airport is still there, it appears from Kloosterziel’s May 27-letter: “We are willing to reconsider our position on the termination of our support as soon as appropriate measures have been implemented to assure that proper government at the airport is assured,” the letter states.

Kloosterziel neatly recaps the conditions St. Maarten has to meet. Firstly, the government and the airport have to welcome Schiphol’s involvement in the airport reconstruction project. Secondly, proper governance has to be in place at the airport.

“It remains of the utmost importance to us that these conditions are continuously met throughout the period of our involvement,” Kloosterziel states.

The Schiphol International-director furthermore emphasizes that his company’s involvement at the airport “is intended to only support the airport and the country of St. Maarten with the reconstruction of the airport after the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma.”