Published On: Tue, Apr 4th, 2017

Is Aruba Category 1 status in danger?

Based on the latest documents this newspaper has received from sources in Aruba regarding a warning letter the Department of Civil Aviation in Aruba has issued to Aruba Airlines, giving the company 15 days to rectify the situation regarding critical vacancies in the company’s organizational structure, one could say the Caribbean aviation, especially the Dutch Caribbean aviation sector, has a curse on it.

With the future of Insel Air hanging on a thread and a recent press release from the troubled airline company in Curacao stating that its lay-offs of critical positions within the company’s organizational structure is within the prescription of the aviation laws and in full compliance with the labor laws, one can compare the situation in Aruba with Aruba Airlines as eerily similar.

However, there is one major difference between the civil aviation situation in Aruba and with that in Curacao. Namely, Aruba has an internationally recognized Category 1 status with the American Federal Aviation Authority, the FAA. This status allows Aruba-based airline companies like Aruba Airlines to freely fly to and from United States and to also serve third party countries with its carrier services out of the USA.

This Category 1 status was instrumental in Aruba obtaining pre-clearance status with the Department of Homeland Security, allowing US-bound travelers to only clear immigration once in Aruba.

Curacao nor St. Maarten knows such luxuries for its America-bound travelers, visitors and tourists. At least, not yet, as the St. Maarten airport and civil aviation authorities seemingly are making headway in this area. Just that pesky Cat 2 status that needs to be worked on first.

If Aruba Airlines does not comply with the DCA’s request to fill the critical vacancies of the key postholder positions within the company by the end of next week, we could possibly see a downgrading of Aruba’s enviable Category 1 status by the FAA. If that happens, that would be the last blow in a string of bad luck that has somehow plagued the aviation sector in the Dutch Caribbean and that would be a great disappointment for the region’s aviation image. Is there a curse on the Dutch Caribbean aviation? One wonders!