On September 15, 2017, the new Flamingo Tower was officially launched, opening a new chapter in Bonaire’s aviation history.
The day began with the first-ever Bonaire Aviation Conference, bringing together over 100 people from the Caribbean region, the European Netherlands, and from around the world, all having a common interest in seeing Bonaire’s aviation industry grow and prosper. The conference culminated in the inauguration of the new Flamingo Tower.
The first Bonaire Aviation Conference.
The day was filled with presentations on diverse topics such as how airports can stimulate regional and national economies, the airport experiences in Aruba and Curacao, how Bonaire has the potential to become a regional cargo hub or have its own Jet Center for private planes, the amazing current-day technological aspects of airports and what the latest innovations are, air traffic control, and how Bonaire International Airport affects Bonaire’s tourism product.
The future of aviation on Bonaire.
At the end of the conference, Flamingo Airport’s own CEO, Mr. Michael Nicolaas, spoke about his vision for the future, with Bonaire’s airport offering safe, secure, and sustainable air transportation through cooperation with all stakeholders.
The new Flamingo Tower is launched!
At the end of the day, everyone was transported to the new Flamingo Tower for the official launching ceremony.
Receiving the keys to the tower.
After the blessing of the new Flamingo Tower, the “keys” were officially handed over to Bonaire International Airport’s CEO, Mr. Michael Nicolaas, from Mr. Rob Huyser, Director of Civil Aviation of The Netherlands.
Mr. Nicolaas then, in turn, handed the keys to Ms. Micilia Albertus-Berboom, CEO of The Dutch Caribbean Air Navigation Service Provider (DC-ANSP), the entity which will be operating the tower on behalf of Flamingo Airport.
Cutting the ribbon and opening the tower.
Then, in a flurry of photographic moments, Bonaire’s Lt. Governor, the Honorable Edison Rijna, cut the ribbon, officially opening the island’s new Flamingo Tower. He then took an elevator ride to the top, and enjoyed a private tour of the facility.
The assembled persons cheered as KLM took off down the runway, the first flight to depart with the newly christened air traffic control tower.
About the new Flamingo Tower.
Flamingo Tower’s inauguration caps off the completion of phase 2a of the 15 year Master Plan for the expansion of the airport. The tower will be operational from 6:00 AM until 11:00 PM local time (11:00 – 03:00 UTC / Greenwich Mean Time) and/or until the last flight arrives or departs.
The new Flamingo Tower is fully compliant with the International Safety Standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). An initial staff of seven people will be employed to handle the current traffic at the airport, with DC-ANSP able to respond to any increase in air traffic demand that would require additional staff.
The new location of the control tower has an improved line of sight, providing the air traffic controllers a better view of the entire maneuvering area of the airport used for the take-off, landing, and taxiing of aircraft. The state-of-the-art quality technical equipment and communication system facilitates the communication between the Control Tower and the air traffic (pilots) and ensures a safe guidance and management of air traffic operations.
Flamingo Airport offers refuge to regional carriers during Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Since the inauguration, Flamingo Tower has been exceptionally busy, coordinating the arrivals of approximately 20 aircraft from regional carriers who were, firstly, seeking shelter from Hurricane Irma, and then, a week later, from Hurricane Maria. Flamingo Airport was able to offer shelter to these Caribbean carriers, safely parking the aircraft on the airport’s apron.
Bonaire International Airport receives clean “bill of health” from United State’s airport security agency, TSA.
In even more recent news, Bonaire’s airport facility has just received a clean bill-of-health after a security inspection by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, TSA was performed in a three-day audit conducted between September 22nd-24th, 2017. The audit’s results found Bonaire International Airport to be in full compliance with all international standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
As CEO, I’m very grateful and proud of this EXCELLENT result that is primarily due to the professional leadership of BIA’s airport security department under the dynamic supervision and direction of Mr. Tico Wanga, his eight supervisors and assistant team leaders and the overall staff of the Airport Security Department.— Mr. Michael Nicolaas
Bonaire’s airport facilities are very important to the island, as many travelers arrive via airplane to enjoy the island’s ambiance, diving, windsurfing, kiting, and dining. Hats off to all the staff at Flamingo Airport, pabien (congratulations) and thank you for the excellent job you do for Bonaire!
(Source: Bonaire Insider reporter)
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Susan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog.