Published On: Thu, May 21st, 2020

Delta Airlines repatriation flight carries home 150 Americans from St. Maarten

~ Exclusive interview with two American couples about their bittersweet departure ~

PHILIPSBURG — US citizens who had been vacationing in St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius, were able to fly home on a humanitarian flight from St. Maarten to Atlanta on Thursday, May 14, 2020, – the first arranged amid the coronavirus-induced island-wide lockdown. 

The tiny Caribbean island of St. Maarten has been under a tight lockdown for two months now. 76 coronavirus cases have been confirmed on the Dutch side of the dual nation island, with 15 deaths. Another 3 people died on the French part of the island, where 39 infections were confirmed.

St. Maarten was still striving to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. The island’s biggest hurricane in a century caused as much as three billion dollars in damage and losses. Still, many feel COVID-19 may be even more devastating to the tourism-dependent economy. The island’s high tourist season was cut short when nations around the world began closing their borders.

The US Consulate General in Curaçao arranged a repatriation flight for US citizens looking to return home from Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten. A packed Delta flight left at 12:23 pm from Princess Juliana Airport in Dutch St. Maarten on Thursday, the 14th of May.

Michael & Elizabeth Martucci - Stranded Tourists on SXM during lockdown

Passengers said they felt safe in St. Maarten and were concerned about the situation in the United States. “It is like being dropped in a warzone,” said Michael Martucci from Colorado who, together with his wife Elizabeth, spent a month longer than planned in St. Maarten. “It is hard to leave. We have to return to family and business.”

Watch the interview in this exclusive StMaartenNews.com video>>>

###

PHOTO CAPTION: Photos below show US citizens boarding the Delta Airlines aircraft at SXM Airport on Thursday, May 14, 2020, and finally the take-off at 12:23 pm from Princess Juliana International Airport. Photos by planespotter Irving Maduro.

Delta Airlines Repatriation Flight Pax Boarding 14 May 2020

Delta Airlines Repatriation Flight Pax Boarding SXM Airport 14 May 2020

Delta Airlines Repatriation Flight Pax Boarding SXM 14 May 2020

Delta Airlines Repatriation Flight Departing 14 May 2020