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Getting to Bonaire: Alm to charter american eagle aircraft
Bonaire Talk: Getting to Bonaire: Archives: Archives 1999-2005: Archives - 1999-06-02 to 2001-12-31: Alm to charter american eagle aircraft
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By alan markus on Monday, September 10, 2001 - 10:46 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Just received notification from ALM that eff Sept 11th, they have an agreement with Am.Eagle to charter Am. Eagle atr 72's (62 passenger aircraft) and will fly 4 times a day to bonaire and 2 times a day to Aruba from Curacao (under the ALM banner).
However, this is a fix only on a wet charter and they did not advise the length of time it will be happening (they did say "brief period).
Any good news is better than where they were headed however.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jake Richter - NetTech on Monday, September 10, 2001 - 10:54 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Here's the e-mail they send out:

From: Air ALM & DCE []

Sent: Monday, September 10, 2001 9:20 AM
To: List Member
Subject: Air ALM & American Eagle

After extensive negotiations, Air ALM has reached an agreement with American Eagle on the best way to serve the route between Curaçao and Bonaire. The negotiations reached the conclusion that the best solution would be to utilize the services of the American carrier American Eagle to comply with the demand on the Curaçao/Bonaire route. As is known, presently Air ALM has two of its aircraft in C-check. This caused problems with capacity, which hinders a good service on especially the routes from Curaçao to Bonaire and Aruba. Reason why we approached American Eagle to be able to also utilize the airline's aircraft on the route Curaçao/Aruba. The aircraft are ATR-72 with a capacity of 64 passengers. Effective Tuesday, September 11, 2001, Air ALM will lease the aircraft from American Eagle for a determined brief period according to a wet lease agreement. Based on this agreement, the American Eagle aircraft will operate the flights with Air ALM's flight number. Consequently the flights will be operated under Air ALM's responsibility, which means that the flights will also carry the letters LM in front of the flight number. There will be four flights per day to and from Bonaire and two daily flights to and from Aruba.




Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jake Richter - NetTech on Monday, September 10, 2001 - 11:21 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

And here's an article about this from today's The Daily Herald (

Winair Questions Air ALM Deal with American Eagle

PHILIPSBURG—Winair Chairman Mike Ferrier was notably agitated when he learned of news that Air ALM and American Eagle had signed a wet lease agreement, allowing the latter to service the Curaçao-Bonaire, Curaçao-Aruba routes.

"Not only have they done exactly what they don’t want Winair to do, they also clearly indicate that aviation circles in Curaçao don’t have any good intentions with Winair. Why didn’t they approach Winair to conduct those flights?" Ferrier told The Daily Herald Sunday evening.

The announcement that American Eagle had started the service came after Transport and Communication Minister Magda Rafael had said Winair had the right to service all routes within the Netherlands Antilles. "Internal flights are reserved for our own airlines, so Winair has the 'economic' permit to fly. But there are questions about the wet lease under which Winair wants to execute the flights," she said.

According to her, members of the Council of Ministers did not agree on the terms of the wet lease arrangement, for instance concerning cabin personnel, maintenance and catering.

Ferrier questioned Rafael's knowledge of aviation issues. "I don’t understand what she understands under the term wet lease," he said. He explained that Winair is planning to lease an aircraft — most likely from Guadeloupe-based Air Caraïbes - complete with pilots, crew and mechanics.

"Whether we fly it empty or full, we owe the company one price. It’s up to us to fill it. I think in Curaçao they think that we will have a foreign company conducting the flights and paying us a commission for doing it under Winair rights," Ferrier said.

Then he asked why "Curaçao" had so many questions concerning the wet lease and then had allowed Air ALM to do exactly that what it was questioning. American Eagle started flying the Curaçao-Bonaire, Curaçao-Aruba routes on Sunday, under a one-month wet lease arrangement. "Are they maybe doing exactly what they are afraid that we want to do?" the Chairman asked.

He said it was clear that Minister Rafael didn’t care how Air ALM performed. "It’s okay for Air ALM, but when it comes to Winair we are scrutinized," he said, questioning why Winair —
"the only remaining national airline" — had not been considered.

"American Eagle cannot make money on the Bonaire route with an ATR. Unless they were tempted with double prices. And how will ALM be able to pay them, while honouring the same ticket rates it now has on that route?" said Ferrier.

He said Winair had made a promise to provide a service to Bonaire and still wanted to do it. "We have smaller aircraft, less comfortable than an ATR, but we will do it at the same price, without asking subsidy for every flight," Ferrier said.

According to Ferrier, Winair will place two Twin Otters in Curaçao to start conducting the Bonaire service the moment the minister puts in writing the permission she said Winair had to fly all national routes.

"But we also need the support from the Bonaire people, in their time of need. Otherwise we’ll make our deduction and pull out and come back to do what we make our money with — servicing the Windward Islands," he said.

Newspaper reports from Curaçao indeed suggest that Bonaire would rather have a bigger aircraft than a Twin Otter on the Curaçao-Bonaire route. Rafael was quoted as saying in the Amigoe newspaper that there could be some practical obstacles in Winair’s having to build a hangar at Hato.

"Bonaire’s preference for a bigger aircraft is answered with the arrangement with American Eagle. But Winair would still be a good backup," she said.

And here's the Editorial from The Daily Herald on the topic...

Wet Lease

Commissioner Mike Ferrier is not happy with the fact that Air ALM has reached a "wet lease" agreement with American Eagle to execute flights to Bonaire and Aruba for a month, while ALM addresses its plane shortage problem. If indeed Winair was never approached, the commissioner has a point. The argument that Bonaire would rather have bigger aircraft than Winair’s Twin Otters is only partially acceptable. After all, ALM is supposed to operate as a commercial company. especially after costing the Antillean tax payer so much money for so many years, the airline could have at least compared prices and considered an airline from the same country and owned by the same Central Government.

One can hardly escape the impression that the request of Winair to start flying to Curaçao alongside ALM or its successor Dutch Caribbean Express is the real reason. And that is a pity. The management of ALM must understand that if the Windward Islands are to accept Curaçao’s takeover of a federally owned airline, then allowing Winair, as the remaining "national airline," to fly to Curaçao is the least the Central Government can do, especially considering the recent on-time performance of ALM and its fleet problems.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the future. Winair plans to fly to Bonaire anyway, as soon as it gets official permission. American Eagle will start regular scheduled flights to Bonaire in November and has asked permission to transport passengers between Curaçao and Bonaire as well as Aruba and Bonaire.

There is every indication that both the Antillean and Aruban Governments will go along with this. The question then becomes whether there are really any protected routes left within the Antilles. Under these circumstances authorities can no longer justify restricting Winair from flying to Curaçao by excluding the kind of wet leases with other airlines it has planned.



My commentary/overview of the situation:

While it appears airlines are fighting for Bonaire access, much of it is politics, especially where Air ALM and Winair are involved. The issue at stake here, hinted at above, are "protected routes", under a principle known as cabotage, where a country has the exclusive right to flight routes within that country. Many of Bonaire's problems stem from the fact that Air ALM jealously guarded (and still guards) any local inter-island traffic involving Bonaire, and the Curacao based minister of transport has even had the gall to say that Aruba-Bonaire is a protected route, exclusive for Air ALM. However, with ALM becoming Dutch Caribbean Express, and also now being owned by Curacao itself instead of the central government of the Netherlands Antilles, there's not much legal basis for Air ALM being able to restrict local access to Bonaire, but Curacao politicians keep hoping that no one will fight ALM/DCE's claim. While Winair's offer to support Bonaire is on the surface generous, the scary thing is as national carrier, they legally have the exclusive right to inter-island Bonaire traffic, but politics prevent them from exercising this right (which is a good thing for Bonaire, because we don't want restrictions on which air lines we can work with to fly locally).

It's rumored that in November American Eagle will start flying Curacao/Bonaire/Aruba under its own name, and I hope that's certainly the case, but I don't know what concessions, if any, had to be made to appease the greedy politicians in Curacao and/or ALM/DCE in order to get those routes.

I would hope that competition would decrease prices, which currently stand at around US$120 from a Bonaire/Curacao roundtrip (it was about $65 when we moved to Bonaire four years ago - almost a 100% increase, because there was no alternative...)

In the short term, the new ALM/American Eagle deal is great in that it provides desperately needed flights between Bonaire and Curacao (and Aruba - a direct non-stop to Aruba is something we haven't seen in a while on Bonaire).

In the long term, let's see what happens...

Jake (getting off my soap box)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jason on Monday, September 10, 2001 - 1:50 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Jake... couple of thoughts.. I certainly would be nice to see increase in flights to Bonaire..I am not sure whether there will be actually a decrease in price.. it would just be nice to have some alternatives.. the short haul part has heavy input to the ability for the long haul trip. As far as Greedly policians.. hey I am just a visitor but what you are seeing there as far as landing rights is the same you see anywhere.. those who are the haves wantto deprive those who are the have nots..Direct service from Aruba opens a whole new realm of possibilities or restores one that has been gone since the demise of Air Aruba. Aruba is establishing itself with strong potential as a hub with charter and secheduled service from airlines other then AA. As down as you are on ALM, I am farther down on AA having witness the debacle that all their Caribbean flights seemed to be in MIA on the 10th. This is indeed interesting news..


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jake Richter - NetTech on Monday, September 10, 2001 - 2:08 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post


"the debacle that all their Caribbean flights seemed to be in MIA on the 10th"


Things were find on Saturday when I flew from MIA to BON via SJU...



Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jason on Monday, September 10, 2001 - 3:45 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Jake.. I flew from BON to CUR to MIA on Sunday afternoon.. their flights from Aruba, Curacao, Cancun and at least three other airports were running from 30 mins to 3 hours later.. When we arrived to do our check in, when they got 20 people in the line they closed the counter because "it was to close to closing time".. If you had their gold card they took you to the gold counter.. the rest had to scramble.. only after a loud vocal effort did a supervsior arrive and start to try to correct the mess and this was for the AA connecting on AA..Actually that was a shame.. I had never seen a lynch mob form before... apparently the Cancun folks were told that there would be a rep waiting.. As it turns out the flight making my connection to DCA never made it... so they canceled .. ALM caught and rebooked me and the rest of my party on another (and I think the last flight) to DCA.. I will readily admit that ALM canceld my first flight of the morning.. but they called me at home and essentially met all the new steps of my agenda..
and had their gate agent waiting for the people whose connections were busted... here is a case where AA should be taking notes from ALM..a truely frightening though.. this is why I personally look forward to a possible Aruba Connection.. USAIR and UPS Charters are two that I know either fly there or are planning to fly there

believe be if I could find a way to get back and forth without either AA or ALM I would be a LOT happier... but between the two... hey ALM still had a meal and free drinks for the trouble.. and AA had a rum for $5 and a bag of I don't know what...


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Anonymous on Monday, September 10, 2001 - 7:17 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Interesting. Can someone please define "wet lease"?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jason on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 - 8:29 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

If you look up in Jake's copy of the email he provides the info..


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jake Richter - NetTech on Monday, September 24, 2001 - 10:17 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

And here's more from The Daily Herald ( today:

Bonaire Still Lacks Adequate Air Service

BONAIRE — Commissioner of Tourism Ramoncito Booi has written a letter to Prime Minister Pourier complaining that despite government promises and talks with American Eagle, Bonaire is still without an adequate air connection.

Booi says American Eagle should be allowed to transport passengers between the islands on its own while ALM has insufficient planes, and not just for ALM. The U.S. airline has a good reputation and the Island Territory cannot afford to pay for the service.

ALM has apparently opted not to make use of the possibility created two weeks ago to let American Eagle execute flights on its behalf while the Antillean airline deals with its fleet shortage problem.

This has angered Bonaire’s Commerce and Industry
Association. In a letter to ALM it accuses management of opportunism. Hotels, dive schools and car rentals are having to deal with a steady flow of cancellations due to a lack of available airplane seats.

Commissioner Booi also wants the Central Government to go back to its original decision to permit American Eagle to transport passengers between Aruba and Bonaire effective October 1. The Department of Aviation only wants to go as far as allowing flights originating or ending in Puerto Rico to pick up passengers for Bonaire in Aruba and for Aruba in Bonaire.

Offers by Winair to fill the void have so far been rejected by authorities in Bonaire, who prefer American Eagle.


And even more interesting:


Transfer ALM Shares Illegal

WILLEMSTAD—The transfer of shares of federally-owned Air ALM to the foundation running Curaçao-owned Dutch Caribbean Express (DCE) is unlawful and void.

That’s the conclusion of the Dutch law firm Nolst Trenite, in its advice to the Antillean Government. The firm was asked to look at possible
damage claims resulting from the takeover of ALM’s
operations by DCE.

It said the correct legal procedures had not been followed in both the sale to DCE of ALM’s assets seized by the Island Receiver and the transfer of the shares. As a result, both transactions are void.

The Central Government is advised to sell the ALM
assets in a public bidding session as required by law to prevent other creditors from seeking to get the agreement declared void. It is warned that in a possible bankruptcy scenario for ALM the trustee will in all likelihood do so as well.

The firm also looked into the severance payment need to reduce the airline’s staff by one-third. In the case of a bankruptcy only the legal minimum applies, which makes the total 8 million guilders, rather than the 12 million in the Collective Labour Agreement.


It should be noted that the local paper, Extra!, is filled with stories similar to the above today as well.



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