Airport survives economical crisis
24 Jun, 2010, 08:05 (GMT -04:00)

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The façade of Reina Beatrix airport is currently undergoing a thorough facelift.
ORANJESTAD — Aruba Airport Authority (AAA) is cautiously optimistically disposed towards the coming year. “We are out of the dip”, says director Peter Steinmetz. The airport authority presented their annual figures on 2009 today. These showed a slight regression in the number of passengers and a slight increase in the number of flights.

The Reina Beatrix airport had processed 1,923,623 passengers in total, which is 2.5 percent less than two years ago. Of that total, 939,011 were departing, paying passengers, which is also a decrease of 3.2 percent in comparison with 2008. For that matter, after that record year, this is the best result ever obtained by the authority. The number of flights had increased with 4.1 percent to 38,335 in total. However, the net profit had amounted to 14.9 million florins, which is 12.4 percent less than that of 2008.

Various umbrella airline institutions such as IATA and ICAO provide for a worldwide growth of 2.5 to 4.5 percent in the number of passengers. With regard to flights from North America and Europe, AAA expects a proportional growth for the Aruban airport. Venezuela is the spoilsport, but still the second most important market for the island. The restrictions imposed on travelers by the Venezuelan government from that country, could still lead to suppression of the figures. With regard to this year’s projects, AAA has already begun to beautify the façade and the construction of a market and restaurant for the own personnel. The construction of a hangar at the location for private aircrafts will start this autumn.

Airport tax
Last Tuesday, the parliament approved an amendment, which states the annual dividend from AAA to the government will be used to improve the tourist product. Steinmetz, “In first instance, it is not our business. We pay dividend to the shareholder. What he/she does with the money is therefore up to the shareholder. If you want my personal opinion, I find it a fine initiative.” Lowering the airport tax was also a subject of discussion lately. During the last meeting of the Ministerial Cooperation Council, it was determined there the so-called airport tax would be lowered. However, AAA-director Steinmetz has objections. “First of all, it is not a tax. It’s an amount we ask of our users for our service. It’s a determined amount, which is linked to the loan for the renovation of the airport. Therefore, one can imagine that in the case of a reduction, the financers will view this as well. It is not impossible nor the case that we do not desire such. It’s simply a complex matter.”