St Maarten's Princess Juliana International Airport re-opened today, one month after Hurricane Irma ravaged the island.
The first flight out was from the national carrier, Windward Islands Airways International (WINAIR), to St. Eustatius while the first international flight was from Delta Airlines, which landed at around 1.50 pm.
Located on the Dutch side of the island, the airport also services travellers and residents on the French; Saint Martin, side.
St. Maarten’s Director of Tourism Rolando Brison announcement the re-opening on Monday while speaking at a media briefing during the Caribbean Tourism Organization's (CTO) "State of the Tourism Industry Conference" (SOTIC) in Grenada.
Speaking via Skype, Brison said all airlines have indicated that they will resume operations.
“The people of SXM airport have worked very hard to get it done and I’m very proud we’re able to re-open. We are not quite yet ready for night operations yet, but traditionally 80 percent of the traffic comes in the daytime, so we are just making adjustments to the night."
Brison also said the island sustained varying levels of damage to 70 percent of its hotel stock but repair works are underway.
“The big blow to the island is the larger properties Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Westin Dawn Beach Resort, which were hit very hard, between those two properties we have over eight hundred rooms. Sonesta has recommitted to opening partially by the end of this year, while Westin Dawn will reopen, sometime next year."
And also speaking through Skype to the CTO’s media briefing was French St. Martin’s First Vice President Valerie Damaseau, who said, "One month after the hurricane there are clear signs of recovery and some restaurants and bars have reopened for business, while the others are working assiduously to get back on track."
Damaseau noted that the Tourism is major source of income for the Island, so they are reorganizing in order to provide to the tourist who look forward to coming to the French side of the island - St. Martin.