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In this December 2010 issue:

1. INTRO: The Crazy Mad Month
2. SPECIALS: Remembering Frank DeLisle - LIAT Founder 3/3
3. ARTICLE: Unpaid Advice To Winair's Management
4. SPONSOR MESSAGE: CheapoAir
5. NEWS ITEM: Copa Airlines Arrives In St. Maarten
6. TRAVEL TIP: Visit Traveler's 'Wanna Haves' Kiosk At PJIAE Airport
7. AGENDA: Online Art Fair - Jan 22 to 30, 2011
8. ADVERTISEMENT: St. Maarten Florist - StMaartenFlowers.com
9. CUSTOMER SERVICE: How To Book With AirStMaarten

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INTRO: The Crazy Mad Month
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Dear friends and clients,

We are in the month of December and this is the month I usually refer as the 'Crazy Mad December Month'. Everyone is clammering to get to St. Barths.

Watch this video to find out why...

Nevertheless, despite the crazy mad season we are currently experiencing,  I found a couple of days of free time to churn out this month's issue of the AirStMaarten Newsletter.

Season's Greetings & Happy Readings!

Terrance Rey

Adformercial: Fired Travel Agent Reveals How To Get Dirt Cheap Airfare Tickets! I Was Fired By The Airlines, So This Is My Revenge! This Angry Ex-travel Agent Will Reveal The Deepest, Darkest Secrets Of The Airline Industry To Show How You Can Obtain Airline Tickets At Ridiculously Low Costs! Click here!

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2. SPECIALS: Remembering Frank DeLisle - LIAT Founder 3/3
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Frank DeLisle - LIAT Founder

We remembered that Sir Frank DeLisle, founder of the Leeward Islands Air Transport (better known Caribbean-wide as LIAT), the oldest airline in the sub-Caribbean region, died at age 83 on Friday, November 1st, 2002. It was on Antigua & Barbuda's Independence Day that he was honoured with a knighthood for his outstanding contribution to the aviation industry in Antigua and Barbuda and the Caribbean as a whole.

A former airline captain, Sir Frank played a tremendous role in bringing aviation to the region. He was born in St. Kitts and went to neighbouring Anguilla as a young man to work in the Agriculture Department. He then migrated to Montserrat where he was employed with the Montserrat Company Ltd.

It was there that his love and interest in aviation developed. With a vision of transforming air transportation in the region, Delisle started the Leeward Islands Air Transport Service Ltd. in 1956, on the island of Montserrat.

In those days LIAT was a privately owned one-man operation with a fleet of one aircraft and a non-scheduled service between Montserrat and Antigua. He also founded Radio Montserrat, the first radio station in the sub-region, which is still operational today.

With the support of the late V.C. Bird, former Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, DeLisle’s vision grew and LIAT was moved and headquartered in Antigua. The airline continued to grow and develop with the co-operation of other regional leaders.

LIAT old fleet - Aviation Pioneers of the Caribbean Foundation

Photo of LIAT's old fleet consisting of DeHavilland Herons, Twin Bonanzas and Piper Apaches provided by the Aviation Pioneers of the Caribbean Foundation (APOTCF) http://www.aviationpioneers.info

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3. ARTICLE: Unpaid Advice To Winair's Management
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Unpaid Advice To Winair's Management

by Terrance Rey

Back in November 2008 at the funeral service of my late fiancée, Maynen Lucio, a proponent of great customer service, I called on the managing director of Winair, Mr. Edwin Hodge, who stood at the back of the funeral hall during my eulogy, to make providing great customer service the mantra of his company. He was a good enough sport to acknowledge the advice and I later apologized to him for putting him on the spot like that.

However, my advice at the time still stands today and via this article I want to reiterate my advice to him and to the management team of Winair: make providing excellent customer service your number one objective. This is the right path to profitability and financial stability.

One of the complaints about Winair, both internally and externally, as to the cause of the company’s financial woes, is that the company does not do much marketing to promote its flights and routes. That in itself is not completely a bad thing. Personally, I'd rather spend money on improving the customer experience than on marketing. The lack of marketing or marketing funds is not the primary cause of the company’s financial crisis. Lack of customer service is!

As CEO of AirStMaarten my goal is to focus on continuing growth of my business while maintaining the culture and spirit of a small company. Within AirStMaarten the goal is to provide great customer service and make the customer service experience a positive one and memorable enough for customers to book with us again.

I have always said that the day Winair starts improving its customer service is the day when I can start closing down AirStMaarten. The success of AirStMaarten as a virtual airline is largely in part due to the poor customer service clients of Winair experience. Despite this, and in light of the recent publicity surrounding Winair financial situation, I will give Winair’s management some unpaid advice, simply because AirStMaarten’s success is dependent on Winair’s existence.

So here is my unpaid advice to Winair’s management:

  1. The e-commerce business, like any business, is built upon repeat customers.
  2. Word-of-mouth is even more powerful online.
  3. Don’t compete on price. Clients are more than willing to pay for good service.
  4. Make sure your website is always working.
  5. Customer service is an investment, not an expense.
  6. Stay small, stay focused.
  7. Don’t worry about competitors.
  8. Treat your employees well.
  9. Focus on improving the customer service experience. Start by answering the phones.
  10. Listen to your customers.

Next year, August 25th, Winair will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Despite all the crises, Winair has always managed to survive when many other airline companies have gone bankrupt and disappeared. For this achievement alone I believe this true St. Maarten company deserves our support and any assistance it can get from our St. Maarten government, its employees and staff and from the general public. Remember... t’is we own ting.

Terrance Rey
CEO, AirStMaarten
New company slogan: “Our customers fly with Winair” 

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4. SPONSOR MESSAGE: CheapoAir
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Cheap Air Flightbanner

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5. NEWS ITEM: Copa Airlines Arrives In St. Maarten
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AIRPORT--Five years fostering a relationship with one of Latin America's premier airlines paid off for St. Maarten on Saturday, December 18th, 2010, when Panamanian carrier Copa Airlines touched down at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA).

Copa flight 288, direct out of Panama City utilising a Boeing 737 aircraft, landed at 4:06pm, 11 minutes early, with a full complement of 124 passengers.

Copa Marketing Director Marco Ocand and Director of Commercial Affairs Adolfo Sen were joined by several Panamanian wholesalers and journalists on the inaugural flight to St. Maarten. The aircraft was welcomed with the traditional "wet-down" by PJIA's crash tenders and the passengers were greeted with pomp and pageantry by PJIA personnel, the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and the French-side Tourism Office.

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and Deputy Prime Minister Theo Heyliger were joined at the welcoming ceremony by Minister of Finance Hiro Shigemoto, members of Parliament George Pantophlet and Roy Marlin, French-side Senator Louis Constant-Fleming, PJIA Supervisory Board of Directors Chairman Clarence Derby and hospitality representatives of St. Maarten and St. Martin.

St. Maarten Tourist Bureau head Regina Labega likened the occasion to a wedding day after a long courtship. She said St. Maarten had set its sights on attracting the airline as a major objective of its Air Access Development in its Tourism Master Plan and Airlift Development Study of 2005, carried out under the direction of then-commissioner of tourism, now Deputy Prime Minister Theo Heyliger.

She said the arrival of Copa Airlines to the destination would deliver annual revenue of some US $10 million. "At a time of severe financial belt-tightening which the destination must endure, this is definitely no chump change – this in addition to the numerous employment opportunities it will also create," Labega said.

"Copa," she continued, "will open the entire South American market, allowing St. Maarten to have a year-round scheduled service from Panama, reach 33 different South American markets because of its hub network, and aspire to year-round employment and, hopefully, end the seasonal six-month contracts.

"The economic benefits of this marriage go beyond bringing only leisure travellers to the island. Copa is a business airline and therefore the potential for business development is enormous. From now on, our merchants and business people will have direct air service to Panama, thus opening another popular source for the importation of luxury goods.

"On our side of the equation, the arrival of Copa Airlines offers the opportunity for our national airline Winair to serve as the hub airline for the sub-region and the other stakeholders, namely Anguilla, St. Barths, the British Virgin Islands, Saba and St. Eustatius."

Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company (PJIAE) Interim Managing Director Larry Donker highlighted the fact that demand from the Latin American "Latam" traveller to the region was increasing, lending credence to St. Maarten's efforts in seeking to establish new air service from Latin America.

Although there had been a decrease in US passenger movement, he noted, movement of Latam and Caribbean passengers in 2010 thus far had increased 11 per cent, with revenues of US 21.9 billion.

"Copa's inaugural flight, which we welcome today, stands as a proud testimony that our work is paying off. Copa will fly no less than two flights per week, on Tuesday and Saturday. But we are optimistic, and hope to see it develop into a daily service. This means business for St. Maarten as a hub, and the Caribbean region we serve," Donker said.

"But the importance of Copa goes beyond that. Copa is the national carrier of Panama and links our island directly to Panama City, the hub of the Americas – a strategic transit point for seamless transfers to the major cities in Latin America and the US. The trickle-down effect that St. Maarten may expect in terms of traffic is priceless."

Deputy Prime Minister Theo Heyliger recalled the amount of work that had gone into attracting the airline. He thanked Ricardo Roman, head of St. Maarten's marketing firm for the South American market InterAmerican, for his tireless work in ensuring that Copa began service to the destination.

Heyliger said he and others were looking forward to connecting to other cities in South America through Panama with Copa. He assured that the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau would be working diligently to make those connections possible.

Copa Commercial Director Adolfo Sen added to Heyliger's statement by saying St. Maarten was important for Copa's network. With St. Maarten in the fold, Copa now serves 46 destinations in 25 countries.

French St. Martin Collectivité President Frantz Gumbs said Copa's arrival constituted a good sign for St. Maarten/St. Martin as a business destination, and that while current economic times received criticism, Copa's presence said, "Business is coming," and that was always a good thing.

Gumbs said the airline's arrival also indicated a renewed relationship between French and Dutch tourism authorities, which had become a little strained. However, new business like Copa, he added, benefited two destinations. "And remember, when you land on the Dutch side, there is also business to be done on the French side," he said.

In pointing out that the choice of service for Copa had been between St. Maarten and a host of much richer competitors with very deep pockets, Labega thanked the hospitality delegation that had brokered the deal, which had included Edward Dest and Lisa Coffi of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.

"I am greatly appreciative of their hard work, commitment and dedication, as I am especially proud and grateful to the rest of the staff of the Bureau," she said, also thanking the Anguilla team that had participated in the negotiations, the private sector, St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) and the people of St. Maarten.

"This one is for you. Five years of attending airline conferences, of providing presentations and giving updates, five years of developing and continuously fostering the relationship have finally paid off. It is an occasion we should all be proud of," she said.

Source: The Daily Herald

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6. TRAVEL TIP: Visit Traveler's 'Wanna Haves' Kiosk At PJIAE Airport
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Traveler's 'Wanna Haves' Kiosk At PJIAE Airport - Coming Soon!!!

Ilonka Heisterkamp - owner Traveller's Wanna Haves at PJIAE AirportIt started out as impulse shopping. Philipsburg Utilities store was closing its doors and the sale was too big to miss, so Ilonka Heisterkamp headed there in her car intent on getting a few items for gifts. Sometime later, she had to squeeze into her car that was busting at the windows with gift items and baskets of all sorts.

Her creative mind formed a plan for all of these items; a passion was ignited. That passion some 15 years later had given rise to a business and a confident, young entrepreneur who has challenged herself into taking more creative avenues such as costume jewellery design. And she is not stopping there.

Ilonka is in the midst of another new venture and has started to fill a niche in the travel market. She opens "Wanna Haves" – a kiosk in the Princess Juliana International Airport Departure Lounge in the coming week.

'Wanna Haves' will stock all the last minute items travellers know they need to pack but at times forget in the rush of the moment. Think scarves and shawls, small electronics and accessories, games to keep the little ones happy on the long flight. Forgot your ties or need a new one? How about a new belt and some extra panty hose? These are some of the items 'Wanna Haves' will stock.

In the meantime, you can visit http://www.stmaartengifts.com.

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7. AGENDA: Online Art Fair - Jan 22 to 30, 2011
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Organizers have announced that 139 art galleries worldwide will participate in the V.I.P. Art Fair, an online-only fair, from Jan. 22 to 30. Each gallery will be able to show 8 to 20 artworks in its virtual booth and to store others in a virtual back room, from which it can bring pieces out to show to individual collectors. Browsing the fair is free, but chatting online with the dealers requires a ticket, which will cost $100 the first two days and $20 after that. The fair is the idea of the dealers James and Jane Cohan and the Internet entrepreneurs Jonas and Alessandra Almgren. AXA Art Insurance Corporation will offer information about art insurance to fair visitors, and the PBS program “Art21” will provide videos of studio visits with major artists and tours of major private collections.
Learn more: http://vipartfair.com/open/learn_more

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8. ADVERTISEMENT: St. Maarten Florist - StMaartenFlowers.com
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St. Maarten Flowers - Florist

Visit our website and place your order for flowers, bouquets and giftbaskets online today. We will deliver your orders to homes, businesses, hotels, villas, hospitals, gated communities, schools, universities and funeral parlors anywhere in St. Maarten. Just place your order and we will send you a pro forma invoice with payment instructions. You can pay online with your creditcard once you receive our invoice. After your payment is received, we will process your order and deliver according to your specific instructions. We also do wedding bouquets, boutonniers and centerpieces. http://www.stmaartenflowers.com

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9. CUSTOMER SERVICE: How To Book With AirStMaarten
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Booking Procedure & Reservation Information

Submit a reservation request online at www.airsxm.com. Once we receive your request, we will send you a Reservation Offer for your consideration. Once you accept our proposal, we will require payment. You can use our credit card form to send us your credit card information. We accept all major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. You can also pay by bank transfer, check, cash or Paypal. Once payment is received, we will book the commercial flight or private charter and send you a Reservation Confirmation.

If you have requested additional services such as VIP Transfer Services, we will send you a Final Confirmation containing all details of your travel itinerary and services booked. And that's how you book with AirStMaarten.

Other Customer Service Resources:
Our Shared Charters concept explained in full detail
VIP Transfer Services through Princess Juliana Int'l Airport
Island Concierge Services on St. Maarten and St. Barths
Read what our satisfied clients are saying about our service
Ticket Insurance
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St. Maarten Villa Rentals
St. Maarten Yachting and Sailing Charters
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