PJIAE welcomes Air Caraïbes’ inaugural flight from Paris

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PJIAE welcomes Air Caraïbes’ inaugural flight from Paris

Unread post by bimjim » Mon Dec 14, 2009

http://www.thedailyherald.com/news/dail ... tm179.html

PJIAE welcomes Air Caraïbes’ inaugural flight from Paris

AIRPORT--Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) operating company PJIAE welcomed Air Caraïbes’ inaugural transatlantic flight 534 with the customary shower of water as it touched down and taxied towards its arrival gate Saturday afternoon, to launch the company’s new, twice-weekly Paris-St. Maarten-Haiti service.

On hand to welcome passengers and crew were government dignitaries and tourism officials from both sides of the island, and other invited guests.

Captain Joel Calmet was at the controls of the two-year-old Airbus A330 with, on this occasion, Captain Pascal Courvoisier, originally the designated captain, in the First Officer role. The flight was full and included 46 tour operators and travel agents and 21 journalists who will be on island for a short familiarisation visit.

President and CEO of Air Caraïbes Marc Rochet was on board for the Paris Orly-St. Maarten portion, while Director General Serge Tsygalnitzky flew earlier to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on an alternative routing, for the welcome ceremony there.

The airline is the first to offer non-stop service from Port-au-Prince to Paris. Haiti has not previously been well connected to Europe. Also giving the airline an edge in the marketplace is the convenience offered to the French provinces by its partnership with SNCF and tgvair. Passengers from any of the 13 rail stations in 11 regions of France can buy a combined rail-air ticket and be transported to or from Massy station (closest to Orly) by high speed TGV trains.

First Vice-President of the Collectivité Daniel Gibbs, Vice-President Louis Jeffry, and Territorial Councillor Daniel Arnell were on board the inaugural flight.

Welcoming speeches, ribbon-cutting, and presentation of gifts to the Air Caraïbes flight crew and airline officials took place in the airport’s departure lounge soon after the flight’s arrival.

Speakers included PJIAE President Eugene Holiday, Commissioner of Tourism and Aviation Frans Richardson, Senator Louis-Constant Fleming, First Vice-President Daniel Gibbs, and Air Caraïbes President March Rochet.

Holiday said the new Air Caraïbes service “fit well” into PJIAE’s objective to increase and diversify its airlift into St. Maarten from Europe.

“This new service expresses a renewed confidence in and commitment to St. Maarten by the management of Air Caraibes,” he said. “It is especially important when the global economy, airlines, and the airport are facing financial challenges. We appreciate your decision to start direct flights from Paris and we will continue to work with you to make this service a success.”

Commissioner Frans Richardson remarked that the additional service from Europe was a milestone that “can only strengthen our commitment to supporting initiatives that secure more segments of the tourism market.”

Senator Fleming added that the additional Air Caraïbes service reflected Eugene Holiday’s vision as the “architect” of what had become one of the most important airport hubs in the region.

Vice-President Gibbs congratulated the airline on its progression from well-established regional carrier to imposing itself as a major carrier in the Caribbean skies through listening to the needs of its clients and offering quality service. He said the new service had already led to developments of flights to St. Maarten from Milan and Geneva via Paris-Orly.

Marc Rochet praised St. Maarten’s attributes as a tourism destination, calling it a great honour for Air Caraïbes to fly into St. Maarten. The last route opened by the airline, he said, had been Cayenne, one year ago.

“This is another step forward in the company’s development in establishing a better connectivity network in the Caribbean,” he added.

He was not shy in expressing Air Caraïbe’s evolvement as major industry player, noting that, even in the financial turmoil of 2009, it was currently poised to record its healthiest profit in five years. “We are proud to say we have built something that has been an incredible success. We have an airline that is sustainable and profitable, but also one that offers quality service. Our surveys constantly show that customers are very happy with what we offer.”

With its modern fleet of four A330 Airbuses and other regional aircraft, Air Caraïbes transported over a million passengers in 2009 and aims to increase that by 50 per cent in 2010, he noted.

But being a profitable airline is not the only objective of Air Caraïbes. He said the company had three important goals. One was to offer Caribbean nationals, mainly in the French zones, the opportunity of employment with the airline.

“Currently the airline has 874 staff and more than 500 of them are Caribbean nationals. We will continue this policy because we believe Caribbean people are very warm and they provide our customers with good service.”

The second goal as a regional and long-haul operator is to give confidence to other airlines that, as Air Caraïbes has shown over the years, it is possible to have success and be profitable in the Caribbean region.

The third goal is to support the world economy, environmental concerns, and offer people in all islands the opportunity to fly, and at cheaper prices.

“Good pricing only happens when there is good competition, and that benefits everybody. But no competition has the opposite effect. I do believe with more airlines flying the Paris-St. Maarten route prices will come down.”

Rochet gave an overview of the airline’s development at a press conference later, and answered reporters’ questions. A convention outlining the airline’s support for tourism- related promotions had been signed by Rochet and French-side Tourism Office President Ida Zin Ka Ieu.

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