Simpson Bay – On August 19th, 2021, Winair’s board conducted its annual general meeting of shareholders presenting the audited annual accounts for fiscal year 2020. The report was delivered with a clean or unqualified opinion by the auditors, indicative of the boards’ continued commitment for high quality and timely financial reporting. Present at this meeting were the Sint Maarten shareholder represented by the Council of Ministers, the representative of the Netherlands shareholder, the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board of Directors of Winair.
Delving into the numbers, the impact of the pandemic resulted in a sharp drop in revenues compared to the prior year from USD40.9million in 2019 to USD16million for a net result after tax for 2020 of -USD1.4million loss. Other key figures are passengers flown that went from 323,258 in 2019 to 92,947 in 2020, and number of flights from 28,293 to 9,437 respectively. The drastically reduced demand in flights with unpredictable and disruptive changes in protocols forced the company to reduce the staffing level required to support the actual schedules flown. The head count was reduced from 152 to 98 employees over the period at the start of the pandemic to the end of the year. The company also disbursed USD2.3million in refunds and USD688,426 in travel vouchers due to canceled flights.
In trying to forecast while blindfolded at the start of the pandemic, the board held several meetings including correspondences with the shareholders in finding capital injection solutions to help the company to not only weather the pandemic effects in 2020, but to also poise the company to go into 2021 and beyond with a stronger balance sheet as the diminishing negative effects is expected to extend up to 2024. This resulted in a USD3million capital injection provided as a loan due to technical and timing constraints at the end of 2020. Going into 2021, the company continues with discussions and research to obtain the proper capitalization it requires and deserves. The fact is that the company was taken over by both current shareholders in 2010 with a -USD11million equity without injecting any capital at all, while mandating the board to make the company viable. Viability was achieved in a very short time, tremendous growth instilled in revenues and expanded services, major debts settled, and all this on its own resources. The board has requested the shareholders to take these facts into consideration in helping the company to find ways and means to bolster its cash position.
Winair has seen a much less volatile pandemic protocol in 2021, allowing for a more reasonable resumption of scheduled flights according to market demands. The forward-looking reservations for the peak of the season is cautiously optimistic calling for a DHC-6 300 to be brought back into service for that period and the (re) hiring of personnel on a need basis. It was also reemphasized that in spite of all of these challenges, the company continues to strive for top safety and efficiency ratings and was pleased to inform the shareholders that recently the Air France-KLM audit was successfully passed, effectively extending the codeshare agreement with Winair.
The board has also expressed its gratitude to the Sint Maarten shareholder for implementing the SSRP, without which, there would have had an entirely different outcome of Winair’s financial position. The Netherlands was also thanked for having contributed with the loan solution and further cooperation the board can look forward to in meeting its needs.
In closing, the board reinforced the notion that it can and will manage through this crisis as it has done many times in the past and will somehow survive this current one, however, it is time that the company receives the proper resources to manage these crises instead of fighting them. The auditors’ “going concern” statement supports this notion.
On behalf of the entire board, we congratulate the shareholders, past and present, the employees, past and present, and the populations of Sint Maarten and of all Island markets our little company has served past and present, for reaching its 60th Anniversary on august 24th 2021! We’re extremely proud to have contributed to the social and economic development of our region with our services throughout those years and look forward to doing so well into the future. We are also very excited to connect the entire Dutch Caribbean islands with our network, bringing our family, friends and businesses together with safe and reliable services.