Bonaire’s EZ-Air to receive two additional aircraft, after investment by Pension Fund for the Caribbean Netherlands.
The board of the Pension Fund for Caribbean Netherlands (PCN) has decided, after a preparatory period of almost 18 months, to invest in the purchase of aircraft for the airline EZ-Air. With the loan provided to Bonaire-based Medicair N.V., by means of the Participation Company Caribbean Netherlands (PMCN), established by PCN, two Beechcraft 1900D aircraft will shortly be purchased that will take care of regional flights. In addition, the required working capital is also provided for the start-up of the EZ-Air operation.
The aircraft in question were, until recent, used for flight operations on behalf of Air Canada Express. The aircraft, with 19 seats each, will be used under the brand name EZ-Air for flights between the ABC islands, flights between Bonaire and St. Eustatius and flights to Colombia. The aircraft have been specially selected for their ability to fly directly to various destinations, within an acceptable time and with sufficient comfort. The Beechcraft planes have a pressurized cabin and passengers can walk upright in the cabin due to the high construction of the aircraft. The relatively long distances, for example on the route between Bonaire and St. Eustatius, brought about several requirements for the aircraft, which among other things, require a toilet, and reasonable baggage capacity.
EZ-Air has been involved in Bonaire’s aviation since 2000.
Director of Medicair and EZ-Air, Rene Winkel, has an enormous experience in local aviation. He previously flew as a captain for both the Winair and ALM Antillean Airlines. In addition, with his company Medicair, he has been carrying out ambulance flights between Bonaire and Colombia since the year 2000. The name EZ-Air is not new on the islands. In the past, Winkel has been executing flights between Bonaire and Curaçao for several years with two Britten-Norman aircraft.
For PCN, there were various considerations to invest in EZ-Air.
First, it must be said that this is a solid business case, over the past few months, we have worked intensively with the EZ-Air team and together we have looked at the type of aircraft, the routes that can be served and the commercial plan. From the very start, we noticed in a positive sense the solidity and the level of detail in the business plan.”— PCN Chairman Harald Linkels
In addition, Linkels says that the fund mainly wants to invest locally in matters that benefit the islands and the residents.
Although it is regularly stated that aviation is a risky industry, it is also a fact that the Dutch Caribbean islands cannot do without good aviation. Bonaire is not the priority of most airlines based in Curaçao. As soon as something goes wrong there, as in the case of ALM, DCA, DAE and now Insel, this has dramatic consequences for Bonaire. People can’t leave the island, doctor visits have to be canceled and doing business out of Bonaire in Curaçao or Aruba has become nearly impossible. It is also important for St. Eustatius to have a direct and reliable connection with Bonaire.
According to PCN Chairman Linkels, Divi Divi Air does a good job on the route between Curaçao and Bonaire. However, the company does not offer sufficient capacity and, due to the aircraft used, can’t fly much further than Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.
René Winkel is delighted with the plans for EZ Air, saying
Although EZ Air has put the commercial flights between the islands on the back burner for a couple of years, people on Bonaire kept asking me when we would provide regular flights again. We waited for a while because we wanted to invest in the right type of aircraft.
PCN will, as part of the agreement, name two persons on a Supervisory Board of EZ-Air, which will consist in total of 3 people. As a result, PCN will be able to closely monitor the way in which EZ-Air is managed and will participate in important decisions by the company. PCN hope, through their investment, to assist with creating a stable and solid company that will finally bring reliable and affordable flights to the islands.
The planes will be fitted with additional instrumentation before being flown to Bonaire.
Although the purchase of the planes will probably be finalized this week, they cannot be put into service immediately, as the aircraft must be flown from Canada to Miami for the installation of some instruments necessary for the certification of the aircraft on Curaçao. EZ Air is currently still undergoing the certification process on Curaçao, although the airline gets good cooperation from the civil aviation authority (CCAA) on Curaçao.
(Source: Pension Fund for Caribbean Netherlands)
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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.