Princess Juliana International Airport
|Owner||Princess Juliana Int'l Airport Holding Company N.V.|
|Location||Saint Maarten (Saint Martin)|
|Elevation AMSL||14 ft / 4 m|
Princess Juliana International Airport (IATA: SXM, ICAO: TNCM) is the main airport on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, located on the Dutch side of the island in the country of Sint Maarten. In 2010, the airport handled 1,645,105 passengers and 60,870 aircraft movements. The airport serves as a hub for Windward Islands Airways and is the major gateway for the smaller Leeward Islands, including Anguilla, Saba, St. Barthélemy and St. Eustatius. It is named after Juliana of the Netherlands, who as crown princess landed here in 1944, the year after the airport opened. There is also an airport on the French side of the island, called Aéroport de Grand Case or L'Espérance Airport.
The airport was started as a military airstrip in 1942. It was converted to a civilian airport in 1943. In 1964 the airport was remodeled and relocated, with a new terminal building and control tower. The facilities were upgraded in 1985 and 2001.
Because of increased passenger traffic and the expected growth of passenger traffic in the near future, Princess Juliana International Airport is being heavily modernized following a three-phased masterplan, commissioned in 1997.
Phase I was a short-term program in order to upgrade existing facilities and improve the level of service at various points. This included widening, strengthening and renovating the runway, increasing the bearing capacity of the taxiways, construction of a new apron and an upgrade of the (old) terminal. Phase I was completed in 2001.
Phase II included the construction of a radar facility and a new air traffic control tower, the construction of a new and more modern, 27,000 square metres (290,000 sq ft), terminal, capable of handling 2.5 million passengers per year, and the construction of a Runway End Safety Area (RESA) of 150 metres (490 ft), including a 60 metres (200 ft) overrun, on both ends of its runway, to comply with ICAO rules. The new air traffic control tower and the radar station commenced operations on 29 March 2004, while the new terminal opened in late October 2006. The terminal has 4 jetways for large aircraft like 747s.
If traffic develops as forecast, Phase III of the masterplan will be executed, consisting of an extension of the new terminal building and the construction of a full parallel taxiway system. The new terminal building will also have more jetways and services etc.
However, the oil price increases since 2003 began impacting discretionary air travel worldwide by early 2008, and the prospect of further price increases threatens to reverse the recent expansion of tourist travel by jet which began with the 1980s oil glut.
In 1994, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and France signed the Franco-Dutch treaty on Saint Martin border controls, which allows for joint Franco-Dutch border controls on so-called "risk flights". After some delay, the treaty was ratified in November 2006 in the Netherlands, and subsequently entered into force on 1 August 2007.
In July 2016, KLM announced that from October it would serve the airport by direct flights from Amsterdam, instead of by a triangle route via Curaçao. Owing to this change, the airport lost its last regular Boeing 747 service, for KLM uses Airbus A330s for the changed schedule. The last arrival of a 747 at the airport took place on October 28th, 2016, and Maho beach was almost completely covered with tourists and planespotters to witness the final landing and departure of the aircraft.
On 6 September 2017, the airport suffered significant damage when Hurricane Irma struck the island as a Category 5 hurricane. Video from a Dutch military helicopter showed the roof had been blown off the terminal, the jetways were damaged, and there was a significant amount of sand and flooding on the runway.  The airport remains closed except for emergency and evacuation flights.
Because the approach to Runway 10 is over water, pilots can become disoriented regarding their perceived altitude when operating under visual flight rules. Normal instrument checks, coupled with experience and situational awareness, mitigate potential problems. The departure from Runway 10 presents more "difficulties" than the approach, with a turn required to avoid mountains in the departure path.
Arriving aircraft approach the island on the last section of the final approach for Runway 10, following a 3° glide slope flying low over the famous Maho Beach. Pictures of low-flying aircraft were published in several news magazines worldwide in early 2000. The thrilling approaches and ease of access for shooting spectacular images, made the airport one of the world's favorite places among planespotters. To meet changing international and local regulations, a 150-metre (490 ft) safety extension was required.
Despite the reputed difficulties in approach, there have been no records of major incidents at the airport, although ALM Flight 980 crashed 30 miles (48 km) from St. Croix on 2 May 1970, after several unsuccessful landing attempts at TNCM in bad weather.
Runway 10/28 was renumbered from 09/27 in late 2008.
The runway is 45m wide.
The main apron measures 72,500 square metres (780,000 sq ft) with another 5,000 square metres (54,000 sq ft) on Eastern apron. For freight handling a dedicated apron of 7,000 square metres (75,000 sq ft) is available.
Designed to handle some 2.5 million passengers annually, the new four-story terminal building offers 30,500 square metres (328,000 sq ft) of floor space and is fully air-conditioned. Available facilities include 46 check-in desks, 10 transit desks and 13 boarding gates. There are 20 immigration booths for arriving passengers and five exit-control booths for departing passengers. The building also features 40 shops and food & beverage units—some unique to St. Maarten—promoted under the retail theme 'So Much More'.
The structure has been reportedly destroyed by Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017, with fragments strewn across the runway and a jet bridge snapped in half, before communications were severed by the storm.
Since official opening of the new control tower, PJIA air traffic controllers have two radar systems at their disposal with ranges of 50 nautical miles (93 km) and 250 nautical miles (460 km). PJIA controllers manage 4,000 square NM of airspace known as the Juliana TCA around the airport, roughly between 25 nautical miles (46 km) and 42 nautical miles (78 km) of the St Maarten VOR-DME. Besides providing approach, tower and ground control at PJIA, these controllers also provide approach control for Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport (Anguilla), L'Espérance Airport (French Saint Martin), Gustaf III Airport (St. Barths), F.D. Roosevelt Airport (St. Eustatius) and Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (Saba).
Airlines and destinations
- ^1 PAWA's flights to and from Antigua fly via St. Maarten.
- ^2 TUI fly Netherlands flights operate from Sint Maarten to Curacao before continuing to Amsterdam. However, the airline doesn't have cabotage rights to transport passengers solely between Sint Maarten and Curacao.
- ^3 XL Airways France flights operate from Sint Maarten to Guadeloupe before continuing to Paris. However, the airline doesn't have cabotage rights to transport passengers solely between Sint Maarten and Guadeloupe.
|Amerijet International||Miami, Santiago de los Caballeros, Santo Domingo|
operated by Mountain Air Cargo
Accidents and incidents
- On 2 May 1970, ALM Flight 980, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9CF crashed into the ocean in bad weather killing 22 of the 57 passengers in addition to one crew member. The cause was found to be fuel exhaustion due to several attempts to land the aircraft. The aircraft was not recovered.
- On 21 December 1972, a De Havilland Canada Twin Otter operated by Air Guadeloupe on behalf of Air France crashed at night into the ocean near Saint Maarten en route from Guadeloupe; all 11 passengers on board, along with both pilots, died.
- On 30 October 2014, Skyway Enterprises Flight 7101, a Shorts SD-360 on behalf of FedEx, registration N380MQ performing flight SKZ-7101 from Saint Maarten (Dutch Antilles) to San Juan (Puerto Rico) with 2 crew, was climbing out of Saint Maarten's runway 28 when the aircraft lost height and impacted waters about 2 nautical miles (3.7 km; 2.3 mi) off the coast (end of runway) at about 18:35L (22:35Z). Both pilots died.
- On 13 July 2017, a 57-year-old woman from New Zealand was holding on the fence at runway ten. A Departing Boeing 737 was lined up on that runway. As the 737 departed the jet blast threw the woman backwards either hitting the asphalt on the ground or a concrete wall. She died as a result of a fatal head injury. This was the first fatality at the airport from "riding the fence". Riding the fence is where people hang on to a chain-link fence at the end of the runway 10 as an aircraft departs, attempting to withstand jet blast.
In popular culture
- Princess Juliana International Airport is the airport featured in the free demo version of Microsoft Flight Simulator X. In the full version of the program, it is the destination on the mission called "Caribbean Landing" where you land a regional jet on runway 10.
- The History Channel program Most Extreme Airports ranks Princess Juliana Airport as the 4th most dangerous airport in the world.
- List of airports in Saint Martin
- List of the busiest airports in the Caribbean
- Skiathos Island National Airport located in Skiathos island in Greece, described on YouTube as the "2nd St. Maarten"
- Airnav.com on:Princess Juliana International Airport, visited 20 December 2011
- sxmairport.com: Annual Report 2010, visited 2 March 2016
- Company website with PJIAE Masterplan, visited 21 December 2011
- Masterplan Phase I: 1997–2001, visited 21 December 2011
- PJIAE Masterplan Phase II, visited 21 December 2011
- PJIAE Masterplan: Phase III, visited 21 December 2011
- Adams, Marilyn. "Rising costs reshaping air travel across the USA". USA Today. Retrieved 10 May 2008.
- Lesova, Polya (6 May 2008). "Goldman Sachs: Oil Prices May Hit $150–$200 a Barrel". Fox Business Network. Retrieved 8 May 2008. Archived 11 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
- Whipple, Tom. "The Peak Oil Crisis: The Half-Life For Air Travel". www.inteldaily.com. Retrieved 10 May 2008.
- aerotelegraph.com - "Cult airport St. Maarten loses Boeing 747" (German) 5 July 2016
- - "World famous St Maarten airport destroyed by Hurricane Irma" 6 September 2017
- PJIA website: PJIAE Company Profile, 2007, visited 20 December 2011
- "Princess Juliana International Airport". Retrieved 28 November 2016.
- Most Extreme Airports; The History Channel; 26 August 2010
Media related to Princess Juliana Airport at Wikimedia Commons
- Princess Juliana International Airport (Official Website)
- Aviation Pioneers of the Caribbean
- Airport information for TNCM at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.Source: DAFIF.
- Airport information for TNCM/SXM at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective October 2006).
- Airport information for TNCM at AirportNavFinder
- Airport webcam, flight timetables & pilot data links
- Current weather for TNCM at NOAA/NWS
- Accident history for SXM at Aviation Safety Network