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dfwjim1
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Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Tue May 13, 2014 7:30 pm

Hi all,

I was in St. Maarten earlier this year and I noticed that BA does not fly to the Island. Did BA ever fly to St. Maarten or have they always relied on other carriers to get their customers to St. Maarten?
 
A388
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Tue May 13, 2014 7:45 pm

Is the British market to St. Maarten really that big enough to serve the island with a direct flight? I personally don't think so...

A388
 
edina
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Tue May 13, 2014 7:49 pm

That's a bit like asking why AF don't fly to BGI or ANU, or KL to FDF.......there's no traffic. Most traffic to these islands be it leisure, VFR or business is between the island and its former colonial mother country, or in the case of French islands, the mainland.
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OP3000
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Tue May 13, 2014 7:54 pm

There are a lot of of other nearby English-speaking islands with BA service (Antigua, Barbados, Tobago) with similar beach vacation offerings to SXM (where the languages are Dutch/French), and because of the language/culture for decades British vacationers and travel operators have frequented those other destinations. Besides tourism those routes also offer some additional commercial/VFR/cargo business for BA.
 
jumpjets
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Tue May 13, 2014 8:02 pm

I guess there are few historical ties to the Island and the bulk of UK traffic heading to the Caribbean heads for what used to be the British West Indies. But as holidaymakers look for somewhere new and different it might make St Maarten viable - especially as a tag on say from Antigua which has a daily 777 from LGW
 
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yowza
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Tue May 13, 2014 8:33 pm

As others have indicted there is not much of a history that would create demand. That said BA on more than one occasion has shown an interest in SXM but nothing has materialized. If it ever does it will be a tag on to somewhere in the English speaking Caribbean. SXM.php" target="_blank">http://www.sxmairport.com/news-20131...hows-Interest-in-Servicing-SXM.php

YOWza
 
jfk777
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Tue May 13, 2014 8:34 pm

Why should BA fly to a Dutch and French Island ? Does Air France fly to Barbados or the Bahamas ? NO. Does KLM fly to Jamaica ? They overfly Jamaica to Aruba and Curacio. Brits go to Barbados as demonstrated by the many photos at BGI of Virgin and BA 777 , A340 and 747 .
 
ouboy79
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Tue May 13, 2014 8:36 pm

Oh look...it is another "Why doesn't XXXX fly to XXX" thread. I'm waiting for the "Why doesn't EK fly to Knoxville?" thread.
 
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par13del
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Tue May 13, 2014 9:01 pm

Well, they do have legalized "Houses of Pleasure" which are never legal in the english colonies, so............
 
mainMAN
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Tue May 13, 2014 9:01 pm

Quoting ouboy79 (Reply 7):
Oh look...it is another "Why doesn't XXXX fly to XXX" thread. I'm waiting for the "Why doesn't EK fly to Knoxville?" thread.

No it isn't really; it was a genuine question perhaps regarding St Maarten's popularity, and why it isn't served by BA, which has an extensive Caribbean network. St Maarten not only attracts the Dutch and French, but also Americans and is widely visited by British cruise passengers.

It may also not be immediately obvious to an American poster why different European nationalities go to different Caribbean islands. The French go en-masse to Guadeloupe, but the vast majority of the British public have never heard of it, let alone know it's part of France.
 
kl838
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Tue May 13, 2014 10:08 pm

BA has never shown any interest, yet the island and its government having been trying to lure the airline to the island. I don't know if any of you remember this but years and years ago LH used to fly to SXM. It used to be LH, AOM, Corsair, KLM, AF back in the day. Yet, LH discontinued the route which I believe was due to unsustainable numbers, Arkefly had a go with SXM a few years ago but it wasn't profitable I guess. It is an island with around 78,000 people, there isn't much of a demand even by tourists to warrant a third airline.
 
OP3000
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Tue May 13, 2014 10:37 pm

Quoting jumpjets (Reply 4):
But as holidaymakers look for somewhere new and different it might make St Maarten viable - especially as a tag on say from Antigua which has a daily 777 from LGW

It all depends on what gets popular with the British tourist. Punta Cana (in Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic) became very popular among Brits and British tour operators about 10-12 years ago, and since 5 years ago BA has been flying there non-stop from LGW. Granted, PUJ has the by far the highest number of rooms and lowest lodging/food costs (because of cheap beachfront land, local food production and labor costs) and other than Cuba that cost advantage is difficult to replicate in other island destinations which because of size have more expensive land, food and labor costs.
 
prosa
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Tue May 13, 2014 11:15 pm

Quoting edina (Reply 2):
Most traffic to these islands be it leisure, VFR or business is between the island and its former colonial mother country

Which means Air Baltic ought to start service to TAB.
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rfields5421
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Tue May 13, 2014 11:16 pm

SXM is in a Dutch territory

The island is partially French territory.

English is not a primary language for either portion of the island.

BA serves nearby UK territories/ former UK territories where English is the primary language.

ANU & BGI serve as a similar vacation destination for the UK market.

[Edited 2014-05-13 16:20:48]
Not all who wander are lost.
 
spacecadet
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Tue May 13, 2014 11:21 pm

Quoting jfk777 (Reply 6):
Why should BA fly to a Dutch and French Island ?

Well, for one thing, because to get to Anguilla, which is owned by the UK, you have to go through St. Maarten.

That said, I can understand there not being enough traffic for a full-time BA flight. But the rationale that it's because the UK has no ties to the island isn't the reason. Anguilla is British territory. (And it has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, btw.)

Quoting edina (Reply 2):
Most traffic to these islands be it leisure, VFR or business is between the island and its former colonial mother country, or in the case of French islands, the mainland.

Most traffic to St. Maarten is from the United States. AF and KLM only have 5 flights per week or so. I'm not sure of the exact number but I'd be surprised if US airlines combined didn't have 20-30 flights per day.
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Gr8Circle
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 12:00 am

SXM is also quite popular with Canadian tourists......but most go there on cruise ships......it's all mostly about how the tourism is developed....there are so many islands in the Caribbean and each country cannot serve all the islands.......the tourist traffic tends to gravitate to a few islands only....
 
dfwjim1
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 1:12 am

When I was in St. Maarten everyone I dealt with was fluent in English and U.S. currency was accepted everywhere.
 
guyanam
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 3:36 am

Quoting OP3000 (Reply 3):

Actually the language of St Maarten/St Martin is English. One almost never hears Dutch and the French/French Creole one hears on the French side is spoken by French metropoles and by Haitians and French Antilleans.


This French/Dutch thing is really a marketing gimmick. SXM is really not that culturally different from the USVI, which are also not that distinct from islands like St Kitts and Antigua.

A British tourist will have no problems feeling as comfortable in SXM as they will in any of the former British colonies, and indeed over 10,000 actually do visit the island. The SXM gov't is trying to get them to fly there, so as to encourage even more to visit.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 13):

Have you ever been to SXM. It isn't like Guadeloupe, Martinique or like nearby St Barths. St Maarten is ENGLISH speaking and indeed the vernacular of the island is an English creole dialect very much like that of the USVI, and falling well within the norms of vernacular speech in the other English speaking islands. Indeed St Maarteners feel more in common with people from the USVI and the Leeward Islands than they do with folks from Curacao, or Guadeloupe..

Indeed one hardly even sees the euro on the Dutch side!

Quoting dfwjim1 (Reply 16):

Not only were they fluent in English but more than a few are NOT fluent in Dutch or French. Its the FIRST language of the local population. This because all of the neighboring islands are English speaking, and in fact many St Maarteners have ancestral ties to these islands.
 
byronicle6
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 3:51 am

Quoting dfwjim1 (Reply 16):
Quoting guyanam (Reply 17):

Sounds like you didn't make it to the French side? French is the default language and In my stay on the French side came across some locals who only had a basic grasp of English- far from fluent. You could tell they would much rather be speaking French than English. Also, everything is priced in Euro. Everywhere accepts USD but the USD price is calculated at the the register

[Edited 2014-05-13 20:55:41]
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guyanam
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 4:44 am

Quoting byronicle6 (Reply 18):

I think that the real problem in attracting BA is the fact that AF offers low fares from PAR, and so the UK to SXM market is diluted. Even though SXM gets more UK visitors than SKB they are spread over different sirlines.



I stayed on the French side in the Orient Beach area and also spent lots of time in Marigot. In fact on this last visit all I did on the Dutch side was use the airport because Phillipsburg was congested with cruise visitors.

There is no difference between the locals on the French and Dutch side, and indeed many of the locals on the French side work on the Dutch side because the economy there is healthier. Were the "locals" who you saw Caribbean or French, because a huge % of the restaurant jobs are performed by people from France.

The people who you think are "local" aren't. Indeed there are language discrimination issues on the French side where the locals, whose grasp of French doesn't meet the standards of France, face discrimination in obtaining employment as a result.

In addition local kids, who speak English or St Maarten creole English at home, enter into a French only educational environment , and so encounter difficulties. This was told to me by several St Martin BORN people, who were quite frustrated in being squeezed out of their own island by the Francophones (Metropoles, Antilleans and Haitians)..


The fact that the euro is in issue is French OFFICIAL policy. The true locals would much rather get US dollars, and indeed more identify with the USA than with Europe. In fact SXM struggles to keep its KLM service we were informed some time ago on this site, when the locals complained about the fact that fares to SXM from AMS are higher than to CUR, even though the plane lands in SXM and then proceeds onto CUR..

[Edited 2014-05-13 21:46:01]

[Edited 2014-05-13 21:48:28]
 
vfw614
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 7:50 am

Maybe BA should consider a F-class only service from LCY to haul in all those millionaires and starlets, given that SXM is the gateway to St. Barths.

Just kiddin'.
 
koruman
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 8:03 am

I grew up in Britain and I've been to St Maarten.

And the simple answer is that there is ZERO demand.

It's not just a matter of language or culture or colonial links, because British leisure tourists visit Mauritius and Seychelles (which are almost more French than British) and countless Greek and Turkish and Spanish destinations.

No, the problem is that St Maarten has far fewer reasons to visit than Barbados or Antigua or Jamaica or Tobago. British cruise visitors go because the routings are designed for American visitors, and they are mostly ignorant of the relative merits of different Carribean destinations.

Basically, St Maarten has a sensational airport location but is a deeply mediocre island that has little reason for anyone to visit, rather like Aruba.

But if you live on the US East Coast or in Canada and you only get 2 weeks vacation time each year, and it's miserable in winter, then somewhere like St Maarten which is warm and sunny and lets lazy people use their own currency can seem attractive.

Nothing wrong with that. But British long-haul leisure travellers tend to be a bit more discerning or demanding than that.
 
acelanzarote
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 11:12 am

Would we even being reading this thread where it not for where the runway end is! Suspect if the airport was elsewhere on the island no one aviation wise would be that interested in St Maartin!
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idlewild
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 12:17 pm

I would have figured most UK spotters would flock to SXM/Maho in droves.
 
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Polot
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 12:24 pm

Quoting idlewild (Reply 23):
I would have figured most UK spotters would flock to SXM/Maho in droves.

I'm sure many have. But spotters (of any nationality) are a minority and hardly enough to sustain a long haul flight.
 
rfields5421
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 1:07 pm

Quoting guyanam (Reply 17):
Have you ever been to SXM.

Only spent about 400 days there over a 4 year period.
Not all who wander are lost.
 
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yowza
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 1:13 pm

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 13):
English is not a primary language for either portion of the island.

Completely wrong.

Quoting koruman (Reply 21):
Basically, St Maarten has a sensational airport location but is a deeply mediocre island that has little reason for anyone to visit, rather like Aruba.

I contest this. The island has decent nightlife, good restaurants, sightseeing and things for kids to do as well as wonderful villas for rent in Terres Basses. This puts it head and shoulders above both Antigua and Tobago. All of that said there is basically zero reason for BA service to SXM.

YOWza
 
AviRaider
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 2:18 pm

Quoting koruman (Reply 21):

Way to be condescending and insulting. It's not that difficult to get just about anywhere in the Caribbean from Canada or the US. Americans and Canadians are the tourist life blood for every single island nation in the Caribbean. To say that we are lazy or ignorant of the merits of one island over another is insulting.
 
mcr
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 2:29 pm

Quoting koruman (Reply 21):
I grew up in Britain and I've been to St Maarten.

And the simple answer is that there is ZERO demand.

I grew up in Britain, and still live here, and I've been to St Maarten a few times.

Given that I was looking for flights to SXM just last night, I'd argue there is definitely more than zero demand, even if it's just me that wants to fly there!

 
 
guyanam
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 3:18 pm

SXM.php" target="_blank">http://www.sxmairport.com/news-20131...hows-Interest-in-Servicing-SXM.php


As of last year there were discussions between BA and SXM. Don't know if there has been any progress since then as it doesn't appear as if SXM will be on BA 2014/15 winter schedule.

Also the SXM authorities claim over 14,000 UK visitors. They don't indicate whether this is stay over visitors, or inclusive of cruise passengers. I suspect the former as I am not sure whether it is possible to accurately break out details on cruise ship visitors, given that they just walk off the ship with no passport controls.

[Edited 2014-05-14 08:26:35]
 
dfwjim1
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 3:34 pm

As mentioned above I went to St.Maarten this year and I found it to be a great place with plenty of things to do. Of course the main attraction for me was the airport but I still found the beaches and restaurants quite enjoyable.

No need to call Americans and Canadians lazy though/
 
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yowza
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 4:01 pm

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 25):
Only spent about 400 days there over a 4 year period.

And somehow failed to see that English is the lingua franca of the entire Dutch side?

YOWza
 
rosskin92
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 4:08 pm

I expect many of those who come from the UK and want to go the Carribean/Latin America route through MIA.

When I went to Nicaragua, we had a lot of British Citizens on the DL flight from ATL, guessing they transfered in ATL.

Just a thought
 
N1120A
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 4:10 pm

Quoting OP3000 (Reply 3):
SXM (where the languages are Dutch/French),

Make that English/French with a tiny bit of Dutch.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 13):
The island is partially French territory.

The island is mostly French territory.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 13):
English is not a primary language for either portion of the island.

English is the lingua franca on the Dutch side, as has been pointed out, with the US Dollar being the primary currency on that side too. The French side is different, as Euros are preferred, French the first language and the food much better.

Quoting yowza (Reply 31):
Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 25):
Only spent about 400 days there over a 4 year period.

And somehow failed to see that English is the lingua franca of the entire Dutch side?

Yeah, that makes no sense.
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jeffh747
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 4:33 pm

Quoting koruman (Reply 21):

Ouch. Thanks for the hard words....

I was there in 2012- for the airport. During my three day stay I realized the island was- as their tourism slogan goes" So Much More" than just an airport. I explored the different recreational activities the island offers like hiking and snorkeling, and walked on one of the finest beaches in the world at Mullet Bay beach, while still enjoying the sights and sounds of PJIA. I saw families- including mine having a great time. I've been to other beautiful destinations- PUJ, CUN to name a few, but neither one of them had come close to evoking the same interest and wonder in me that I found in St. Maarten/St. Martin.

In short- I came for the airport, and stayed for the island, and can't wait to return this July.
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starrymarkb
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 6:06 pm

Quoting AviRaider (Reply 27):
Way to be condescending and insulting. It's not that difficult to get just about anywhere in the Caribbean from Canada or the US. Americans and Canadians are the tourist life blood for every single island nation in the Caribbean. To say that we are lazy or ignorant of the merits of one island over another is insulting.

I think they were more referring to the Brits on the Cruisers being ignorant.

I guess for the US the Caribbean is much more accessible to mass market tourism, which from the UK tends to be focused on the Spainish Costas & Greek Islands
 
FCAFLYBOY
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 6:50 pm

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 14):

Actually this is incorrect. There are excellent 1 stop flights transiting through BGI and ANU for Angilla which yes, is stunning, but sees equally little demand even VFR, being a sparsely populated island territory.

In addition, from the UK, SXM is the last resort for reaching SBH, as now there is a great scheduled service directly from ANU to SBH that eliminates the awful journey that used to be AF LHR-CDG-SXM then Winair to SBH!

It's also timed well to connect easily with BA and sometimes VS from ANU.

Sorry, but aside from nice beaches (found almost anywhere in the Caribbbean anyway) and the obvious plane spotting option, SXM was, to me, a distinctly lacklustre and cheap island, tacky tourism attracting a tacky crowd generally, with soulless hotels aside from La Samanna. Poor mans Caribbean, much prefer SBH/AXA/BQU/GND personally. Far more beautiful and the "real" Caribbean not a tourists version - even if SBH is a European island.

BA will fly to SVD long before they look at SXM/AUA
 
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vhtje
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 8:39 pm

Because oneworld partner AA does. You can book a flight from LHR to SXM on BA.com via MIA. It isn't code shared, which tells me traffic from BA on it must be low.
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Viscount724
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 10:12 pm

Quoting Gr8Circle (Reply 15):
SXM is also quite popular with Canadian tourists......but most go there on cruise ships......it's all mostly about how the tourism is developed....there are so many islands in the Caribbean and each country cannot serve all the islands.......the tourist traffic tends to gravitate to a few islands only....

And from Canada, the main Caribbean destination is Cuba, far bigger market than anywhere else in the Caribbean, with dozens of nonstop flights every week to half a dozen points in Cuba during the peak season. Unless it's changed recently, Cuba is the 4th largest foreign destination for Canadians after only the U.S., UK and France.
 
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adg737800
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Wed May 14, 2014 11:53 pm

If you asked the average punter on a British street, they would say, "St Where?". The former and current British islands are well known. It would a lot of promotion at large to push it.
 
guyanam
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RE: Why No BA In St.Maarten?

Thu May 15, 2014 12:04 am

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 25):

What you probably don't know is that over 80% of the people of the island St Maarten/St Martin aren't born there. French is spoken on the French side by people from France, Haiti, and Guadeloupe. The locals learn French in school, and most work on the Dutch side, so you probably don't encounter too many of them as a tourist. Indeed the only locals I encountered were some of the taxi drivers, who gave me the low down. They feel like an extinct species pushed out by the "new" (post 1980) interest of France in he island. Prior to that they were left alone to subsist and I was told they didn't even get electricity until the mid 60s. So there has been a long tradition of people from the French side working on the Dutch side.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erC56pxFIIg&list=PL8BD974041D975C1F

This is how LOCAL St Martin people speak. Because of the politics of the island they are visible on the Dutch, but not on the French side, where Francophones have displaced them. But clearly SXM is not only English speaking, but culturally operating WITHIN the English Caribbean, and not either the Dutch or the French,


British tourists will feel perfectly comfortable there. Now whether it makes sense for BA to fly there is a different matter. For those who find the Dutch side too hectic and "touristy" the French side is much calmer. Clearly there will have to be heavy promotion of SXM or revenue guarantees as SXM claims about 14,000 UK visitors.

[Edited 2014-05-14 17:07:09]

[Edited 2014-05-14 17:09:23]

[Edited 2014-05-14 17:09:52]

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