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St. Maarten Airport Raises Us$132 Million In Rated Bonds

Moody’s Investor Service Assigns Princess Juliana International Airport Baa2 Rating.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
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ST. MAARTEN - Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten has just closed on a US$132 million bond which will enable the airport to embark on an aggressive and major improvement and expansion program. This rated bond issue was facilitated by Moody’s Investor Service recently assigning the airport a Baa2 rating.

Some of the key improvements planned include:

● Runway rehabilitation
● Construction of new taxiways to increase runway efficiency
● Expansion of the aprons to provide additional aircraft parking
● Acquisition of property for future expansion

In order to reduce the cost of the current outstanding bond issue and to finance the capital expenditures for the planned facility development, a refinancing package on the 2004 bond issue of US$118 million was negotiated. Moody’s has given the airport a Baa2 bond rating for the issuance of the new bonds, proceeds of which will replace existing bonds and pay for the anticipated capital expenditures.

"We are all very excited about both the high bond rating from Moody’s and the funds that will result from the $132 million bonds we just closed on," said Regina LaBega, Managing Director of Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company, N.V. (PJIAE).

"The issuing of these bonds will enable us to take our already successful airport to new heights in which we can welcome more international flights as well as the growing number of private jet owners that want to come to our Caribbean island," she added.

PJIAE Priorities
The first priority, in terms of facility development at Princess Juliana International Airport is resurfacing the entire runway. An assessment, along with a plan for the rehabilitation of the runway, was completed in 2012. The selection of a contractor and negotiation of the contract was also finalized in November 2012. Work on the rehabilitation of the runway is expected to commence in February 2013 and be completed by August 2013.

No airline flight interruptions are expected. All work will take place overnight starting at 10 p.m. after the last flight operation of the day and end by 6 a.m. before the first flight of the day.

Another critical issue is the ramp space for aircraft parking, particularly during the peak hours of the day when traffic congestion results in limitations on any new flight operations. Additional aircraft ramp space will be created as a result of the relocation and expansion of the Fuel Farm.

Similarly a new taxiway that will increase the airport’s ability to accommodate additional aircraft landings is among the top priorities. A new taxiway will be constructed which would accommodate three aircraft and improve the efficiency of the runway.

The construction of new facilities for Fixed Base Operators (FBO) to accommodate more private airplanes as well as a new Catering Operations building also falls within the scope of the Capital Improvement Program of the airport.

There is considerable interdependency in the development of these various new facilities for which an updated Master Plan and Strategic Business Plan was completed in 2012 that set out a number of policy initiatives aimed at improving the financial returns and customer service at the airport. These initiatives will be actively pursued in 2013.

Visitor Growth
St. Maarten (http://www.VacationStMaarten.com) continues to prove itself as a preferred destination for travelers with a 7% increase in passenger traffic during the first seven months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, exceeding the world average of 6%.

The figures, revealed during the Strategy Summit held at the World Routes conference in Abu Dhabi, show that St. Maarten has maintained its vacation desirability despite the economic and financial challenges faced by nations around the globe. Compared to 485,936 total enplanements from Jan. 2011 - July 2011, the Princess Juliana International Airport saw an increase to 520,018 total enplanements during the first half of 2012.

Various airlines servicing the island also revealed that they are showing healthy load factors for the country, with some expressing the performance of their St. Maarten routes exceeded company expectations. JetBlue announced that the performance of its San Juan to St. Maarten route during the slow period was better than the airline had anticipated, while United Airlines noted that its extended seasonal service surpassed expectations. Delta, the third largest airline in the world, reported that its load factor to the island was a very healthy average of 90% and American Airlines continues to be one of the most consistent carriers to the destination.

"As a destination that focuses many efforts on tourism, we are thrilled with these figures," said Romeo Pantophlet, Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications for St. Maarten. "We will continue to work diligently to promote St. Maarten as a destination of choice and that would enable us to increase passenger traffic," he added.

According to the report, St. Maarten had an 11% growth from the U.S. market while a collective group of seven islands including Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Curacao, Puerto Rico and St. Lucia, had an overall growth of only 3 %.

For the Canadian market, St. Maarten had the highest growth at 27% followed by Anguilla at 24%, Curacao at 22% and the collective group at 5%. But interestingly, Curacao and Anguilla travel bases are under 6,000 passengers compared to St. Maarten at 22,000 passengers out of Canada.

From Europe, Puerto Rico had the biggest percentage increase at 19%, but the base is only 16,000 passengers compared to St. Maarten’s 70,000 passengers which had a 7% increase in this eight month period.

For more information, please contact Suzy Kartokromo, Senior Business Development Officer – Marketing & Communications, PJIAE, at P.O. Box 2027, St. Maarten; telephone 1-721-546-7544; e-mail: skartokromo@pjiae.com.

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