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Published On: Wed, May 12th, 2021

PJIAE employees speak out

Editor's Note: It would seem that since the SXM Airport CEO Brian Mingo has been fired, the employees at the airport have come to realize that nothing much has changed in regards to their circumstances. As a matter of fact, things seemed to have gotten worst. Schiphol is threatening to terminate its working agreement with the airport and if that was to happen, the airport financing for the reconstruction would be in jeopardy.

In an email to the editor, StMaartenNews.com has received the following copy of a communique sent by seemingly disgruntled airport employees to the PJIAH holding company board. The open letter reads as follows:

St. Maarten, May 9, 2021
Dear Messrs. Doncher and Daniel and Ms. Hodge,
We refer to your letter dated December 4th, 2020 referenced: PJIAH/MD/VDD-2020-033, addressed to Mr. Mingo in which you request Mr. Mingo to resign effective January 4th, 2021 and your eventual firing of Mr. Mingo on April 7th, 2021.
As concerned employees of PJIAE we are seeking elucidation and or are making observations/giving clarifications on the following points.
Lack of ability to move the reconstruction project of the airport forward evident as we are over three years since the terminal building has been severely damaged.
Request for clarification: Does this lack of ability to move the reconstruction project of the airport forward have consequences for the forerunners of the present CEO namely: Mr. Michel Hyman caretaker, respectively COO and acting CEO of PJIAE (2017 – 2019) and Mr. Ravi Daryanani, CFO and acting CEO of PJIAE (2017-2018) or does their lack of ability to move the reconstruction project of the airport forward not matter?
No consistency in your projected completion date for the reconstruction of the terminal building.
This is quite alarming seeing the fact that it has been more than a year since the funds have been made available for the reconstruction.
The alarming fact is that the funds have been made available less than a year ago at the time of your letter (On December 11th, 2019 to be exact) and not more than a year ago. The reasons for this must be well-known to all involved. PJIAE had to comply with certain requirements from the WB first. Requirements that had to be in place long before Mr. Mingo started at PJIAE.
We trust Mr. Doncher that you were diligently working to see that those requirements were met in the past as well. However, circumstances must have worked against them being complied with.
As the project timelines continue to shift under your leadership, all stakeholders (both locally as internationally) continue to express their concern in your ability to align your vision with those
of the Shareholder and other stakeholders involved in terms of getting the airport up and running before possibly being faced with yet another catastrophe.
It is a pity that you were not informed, Mr. Doncher, of all that needed to take place and rearranged for the money to be made available and how that impacted the project timelines.
We were all hoping and praying that PJIAE would have been spared yet another catastrophe, yet Covid-19 made its grand entrance. We are sure you must understand the Covid-19 pandemic issues and the effect this had on PJIAE, in its recovery phase from the Irma devastation, and by extension on the whole island, so we will not bore you with the details. 
The current general sentiment expressed by all is that PJIAE is failing under your leadership tenure thus far and by extension the economy on the whole of this island, which solely depends on tourism. The general sentiment which is also shared by the undersigned can be summed as follows, which list is not exhaustive:
1. Lack of real progress of airport terminal reconstruction;
2. Your vision for PJIA not aligned with vision of Shareholder and Government;
Request for clarification:
As there were no consequences for the following:
-          Capital improvement plan 2013.
-          Resurfacing of the runway.
-          Construction of taxiways.
-          Expansion of the aprons to provide additional aircraft parking.
-          Relocation of various facilities to improve efficiency and provide future growth.
-          FBO.
-          PJIAE fire station.
-          Substation government fire station.
-          Renovation cargo building.
-          Relocation fuel farm.
-          Relocation Goddard catering.
-          Going on a trip to Dubai to receive a reward for which we had to pay a fee.
-          Renting of tents immediately after the hurricane > $50K monthly, are we to understand that these are aligned with the vision of the shareholder and government?
3. Non-cohesive relationship with fellow Managing Board members;
Fact: Please note that the trend of non-cohesive relationship with fellow Managing Board members started with the previous Managing Board consisting of Mr. Daryanani CFO/acting CEO and Mr. Hyman COO. Mr. Daryanani indicated in a meeting with his direct reports not to care about the strained relationship and was not willing to do anything about it.
The same non-cohesive relationship that existed then, exists now in the current Managing Board consisting of Mr. Mingo, CEO, Mr. van der Meiden, CFO and Mr. Hyman, COO. Please note however that the common denominator in both situations is not Mr. Mingo, but Mr. Hyman.
It must be very hard for him to be caught up twice in these non-cohesive relationships between Managing Board members. 
4. Strained relationship with Employees resulting in the employees' issuance of a letter of non-confidence in you;
Again, history repeats itself. The strained relationship with employees resulting in the employees’ issuance of a letter of non-confidence was also a fact under the leadership of Mr. Hyman.
A copy of the letter is attached for ease of reference.
5. Your latest presentation to the Shareholder and COM (November 12, 2020) outlining the increase in reconstruction budget cost from USD $107 to $119 Million or an increase of USD $12 million allegedly due to indexation rates and additional project costs, that will continue to be an issue seeing the delay in the reconstruction;
We trust in your ability to understand the reasons for the delay that are based on the pandemic or so-called acts of God and have nothing to do with the leadership qualities of the Managing Board headed by Mr. Mingo.  
Furthermore, you have shown a lack of interest in pursuing the necessary steps in realizing the much-needed US Pre-clearance for the airport,
Anybody with a bit of business acumen and common sense would know and realize that time, effort, and resources dedicated to the much-needed US Pre-clearance would be a waste of valuable time effort and scarce resources and would prioritize to get PJIAE back on its feet.
The relocation of the Fuel Farm has not been effectuated, the establishment of a New Fuel Farm has not been done,
Points of clarification: Discussions about relocation of the Fuel Farm started even before or during 2010. As a reminder, the funds for the relocation of the Fuel Farm were secured in the 2012 bond loan and were thus to be effectuated in the years immediately following the securing of that 2012 bond loan. Mr. Doncher, you were present at the signing in 2013.
Clarification request: Did you demand the resignation of Ms. Labega because this relocation did not happen in 2013, neither in 2014, 2015 nor in 2016? Was Mr. Hyman asked to resign or reprimanded as this relocation was not effectuated under his leadership either (2017)? What about Mr. Daryanani (2018)? Was he even reprimanded for not effectuating the relocation of the fuel farm?
By the way, what happened to the funds so secured? Does PJIAE still have those funds to effectuate the relocation of the fuel farm were they wanting/willing to start now?
The much-needed Fixed Based Operations (FBO) building for which a contract was already signed has not been done and the list goes on.
Points of clarification: Funds for the FBO were also secured via the 2012 bond loan as mentioned at the previous point.
During the years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, this much-needed FBO building was not effectuated, even though the funds were secured with the 2012 Bond loan and the happy signing took place in January of 2013.  According to previous press releases, bids were to be submitted by January 2015.
Furthermore, in 2017, on November 10th, 2017 to be exact, while PJIAE and by extension the whole island was still in the throes of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, a groundbreaking ceremony of the FBO building was held. The project was set to be completed within 18 months. A deposit was made. A temporary second floor on the existing building was also to be constructed.
Clarification request:
Were there any consequences for those in charge during the years 2013 up till 2019, when Mr. Mingo took over, who didn’t effectuate the FBO?
What happened to the project for which bids were to be submitted in January 2015? What happened to the project in the thirteen months after the groundbreaking ceremony in 2017 and before Mr. Mingo started? What happened to the deposit made? Were those charged with effectuating the FBO then requested to resign or are there no consequences for them? Or are they the poor victims of the strained relationship in the management board?
Regretfully, we must inform you that this situation can no longer be sustained. Based on the preceding points and a growing lack of confidence in your ability to move the company forward, lack of progress on the reconstruction of the terminal building, your failure to foster a good working atmosphere with your colleagues, employees, and the stakeholders amongst others, we strongly request that you tender your resignation by the end of today's date December 4, 2020 effective January 4, 2021.
Request for clarification:
What is the role of the Supervisory Board of Directors (SBOD) in this?
Isn’t it true that the SBOD has the supervisory, advisory and probatory role towards the Managing Board?
Does the above-mentioned situation which can no longer be sustained have consequences for the SBOD as well?
Does this mean that they also failed to guide the Managing Board? Will the SBOD also be requested to resign?
Shouldn’t the appellation on Mr. Mingo to resign and subsequent firing have come from the SBOD?
Shouldn’t the SBOD PJIAH listen to the recommendations of the PJIAE SBOD before taking these types of decisions?
Are the roles of the SBOD of PJIAH and PJIAE respectively separate or intertwined?
How is your relationship with the other members of the Managing Board?
Should there uberhaupt be a relationship between the Managing Board and shareholder besides those mentioned in the corporate governance code?
Respectfully,
Names withheld for fear of retaliation.
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Photo caption: File photo of airport workers protesting on July 1, 2020. Photo by Jacqueline Hooftman.
Editor's Note: There is more to this article. Paying subscribers can log in to read the attached previous letter to the editor that also accompanied the above open letter to the PJIAH holding board.

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