Congratulatory message for Princess Juliana International Airport 75th Anniversary by the Governor

dec 18, 2018


December 3, 2018, marked 75 years since Princess Juliana Airport opened its door as the airport of Sint Maarten. Princes Juliana International Airport has since evolved into the main artery of the economy of Sint Maarten. An institution that symbolizes the dynamism, strength and heartbeat of our island. An institution, which for the past three quarters of a century has served St. Maarten well thanks to the dedication, commitment and tireless efforts of many men and women. I am therefore pleased to join in the commemoration of Princess Juliana International Airports 75th anniversary.
During its 75 years existence, Juliana Airport has experienced good as well as challenging times. And the past 15 months have been especially difficult. In the face of the current challenges this 75th anniversary offers a moment to pause:
•  to pause to recall what PJIA’s place in St. Maarten history has been;
•  to pause to examine St. Maarten’s future in the face of the conditions at PJIA; and
•  to pause to determine what steps are necessary to revitalize and take PJIA to new heights.


In its 75 years, Juliana Airport has experienced remarkable growth. Starting with the first KLM flight and first passengers in 1943 the number of passengers handled have topped 1.8 million and the number of aircraft handled have topped 60,000. To manage and service that level of activity the airport has provided direct employment for some 1200 persons. To accommodate that growth the airport’s original 1943 runway, terminal and other facilities have undergone several major transformations.
• The first transformation was in the 1960s with the repositioning and lengthening of the runway, the construction of a new terminal building and introduction of air traffic services;
• The second transformation was in the mid-1980s with the expansion and upgrade of the terminal building and cargo facilities;
• And the last transformation was in the mid-2000s with the construction of a new Air Traffic Control tower, the introduction of radar services, the construction of a new terminal building, the expansion of the aircraft platform and the introduction of runway end safety areas.
And with each transformation came an increase in the footprint and impact of the airport.
The past 75 years produced an institution that functions as the pulse of St. Maarten’s tourism-based economy and as a lifeline for surrounding islands. Any increase or decrease in traffic movements at PJIA is an indicator of the health of the economy of St. Maarten. This leaves no doubt as to the importance and role of PJIA in the socio-economic development of St. Maarten and the surrounding islands. It leaves no doubt that PJIA is, if not the single most, one of the most important strategic assets of St. Maarten.
The Juliana Airport Family
The history of PJIA is more than the passenger and aircraft movements, runways, platforms, terminals, air traffic control facilities or Cargo buildings. It is a history of men and women, past and present. It is a history of the Juliana Airport Family comprised of many persons, of fine professionals who work at or for the airport, airlines, handling companies, concessionaires and more. These persons and a number of government officials have, through hard work and dedication, built Juliana Airport into a true St. Maarten Institution during the past 75 years. Their contributions to PJIA and St. Maarten have been invaluable.

Reflecting on the almost 13 years, from 1998 through 2010, that I served as President of the Princes Juliana International Airport Operating Company, I am proud to count myself as a member of the Juliana Airport Family.  And I am, as such, honored to have had the opportunity to lead the third transformation towards the building and growth of this special Sint Maarten institution. To my fellow Juliana Airport Family members and, in particular, to my fellow PJIAers, I extend my warmest congratulations on the 75th anniversary of OUR airport, The Princess Juliana International Airport.

The future

In recalling the place of PJIA in St. Maarten’s history it is clear, that the responsible persons for PJIA throughout its history have responded to the task at hand with vigor and commitment. This is evident from the various landmark transformations in the history of PJIA. All aimed at meeting the current and future needs of the people of St. Maarten/St. Martin and of the surrounding islands that depend on Juliana Airport.

We must likewise celebrate Princess Juliana International Airport’s 75th anniversary with an eye on the future. And as we do so we have the benefit of the lessons of the past;
1. we know that amidst seemingly insurmountable obstacles landmark achievements have and thus can be realized;
2. we have learned that we cannot afford to do everything at once; and
3. we know that we cannot afford to lack boldness in our quest to secure our future.

As we celebrate our airport’s 75th anniversary let us be inspired by the landmark achievements of our airport to act without delay. Let us be inspired to act to implement a sound, coherent, clear and functional business strategy towards an effective functioning airport for the next 75 years. We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to restore and take PJIA and our economic development to new heights.

It is with that outlook that I, as Governor of St. Maarten, congratulate the people of Sint Maarten and particularly past and present airport employees on the 75th anniversary of our airport.

Thank you,
And may God Bless you.