Published On: Fri, Apr 9th, 2021

Airport holding fires CEO Brian Mingo

~ A regrettable decision ~

PHILIPSBURG — In a shareholders meeting on Wednesday, the airport’s holding company (PJIAH) dismissed the operational company’s (PJIAE) Chief Executive Officer Brian Mingo per June 6. The shareholders relieved Mingo with immediate effect of his duties.

The holding previously asked Mingo to step down per January 4 in a letter dated December 3, 2020. But Mingo did not go anywhere and in the months that followed he became the target of political attacks by, in particular, independent MP Christophe Emmanuel and USp-faction leader Claudius Buncamper.

The letter that asked Mingo to resign was signed by de holding’s managing director Dexter Doncher, the chairman of the supervisory board of directors Glenn Daniel and the board’s secretary Rochelle Hodge. Reports suggest that Daniel and Hodge voted in favor of Mingo’s dismissal while board member Jim Fazio voted against.

Other reports suggest that PJIAE’s Chief Operating Officer Michel Hyman will take on the role of interim CEO. Hyman functioned already as acting CEO from May 2017 until the end of that year.

It is currently unclear which reasons the holding has used to justify Mingo’s dismissal. Mingo could not be reached for a comment on the situation but it stands to reason to expect that he will fight the decision in court – a potentially costly affair for the cash-strapped airport.

In December the holding listed five reasons for its demand that Mingo step down: 1. Lack of real progress of airport terminal reconstruction; 2. Your vision for PJIA not aligned with vision of shareholder and government; 3. Non-cohesive relationship with fellow managing board-members; 4. Strained relationship with employees resulting in the employees’ issuance of a letter of non-confidence in you; and 5. Your latest presentation to the shareholder and COM (Council of Ministers) on November 12, 2020, outlining the increase in reconstruction budget costs from $107 to $119 million allegedly due to indexation rates and additional project costs that will continue to be an issue seeing the delay in the reconstruction.

The holding also reproached Mingo for his perceived lack of interest in realizing US pre-clearance, for the fact that the fuel farm has not been relocated and for not having started with the construction of the Fixed Operations Building (FBO).

Especially those last three arguments seem rather odd. US pre-clearance requires a huge investment and the establishment of a Dutch-American treaty. That investment cannot be a priority because Mingo’s focus was on the reconstruction efforts.

The complaint about the FBO facility seems even weirder, given its history. Already in 2014 there was a plan for FBO operators to build this facility for $3.5 million, but afterwards the costs mysteriously exploded and reached $7 million in 2017. For a building of 1,300 square meters that comes down to a square meter price of $5,300, while the industry average is $1,500.

When the FBO-plan first came up, Regina Labega was director of the airport. In 2017, when Hyman was acting CEO, he pushed the project, shortly before Hurricane Irma changed everything. But five days before the hurricane the supervisory board signed off on the $7 million FBO-project.

The contract for this project went for $6.1 million to Taliesin, a local contracting company owned by Carl Critchlow. Taliesin was kicked off the renovation project at the Central Bank building after it became a suspect in an investigation into the construction and sale of the building for the Bureau Telecommunication and Post (BTP).

Taliesin won the FBO-bid on January 20, 2015, when Labega was still CEO at the airport.

The contractor reportedly received a down payment of a million guilders ($558,660) in October 2017. On November 12 there was a groundbreaking ceremony for the FBO-project in the presence of then Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs, Melissa Arrindell-Doncher, holding director Dexter Doncher (both appointees of the United St. Maarten party) and PJIAE-acting CEO Hyman.

The history of the FBO-project triggers the question why the holding never called previous airport-CEO’s (Labega, Donker, Hyman and Daryanani) on the lack of progress. After all, its history begins somewhere in 2014 – by now seven years ago – and Mingo started working for the airport in January 2019.

Continue reading: A regrettable decision


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