WINAIR says goodbye to Michael Cleaver and welcomes a new CEO

July 4, 2023 10:28 am

Ushering in a new era of growth and innovation

Simpson Bay, July 3, 2023 - WINAIR is pleased to announce a significant transition in its leadership as it prepares for the next phase of growth and success. After a remarkable tenure of 12 years, the current CEO, Mr. Michael Cleaver has retired from his role as CEO on July 01, 2023, leaving behind a legacy of operational excellence and transformative achievements. WINAIR has diligently pursued the selection of a new CEO, with renowned global consulting firm Deloitte leading the recruitment process. Following an extensive search, the Supervisory Board and Shareholders of WINAIR proudly introduce our new CEO, Mr. Hans van de Velde, a seasoned airline specialist poised to lead WINAIR into an exciting future.

On two occasions Mr. Cleaver was requested to delay his retirement due to events impacting the island and the regional aviation sector. With the confidence that stability has been reestablished, it was announced in November 2022 that he would be retiring in 2023. Recognizing the significance of this transition WINAIR entrusted Deloitte with the task of finding a visionary, transformational, or collaborative leader who would steer the company towards its next phase of growth and excel in the dynamic aviation industry.

Deloitte's rigorous recruitment process yielded an impressive pool of 33 applicants, each assessed meticulously against WINAIR's specific requirements. The aim was to identify a candidate who possessed a unique blend of leadership qualities to build upon the foundation laid by Mr. Cleaver and his exceptional executive team.

Under the direction of Mr. Cleaver, who excelled as an operational leader, WINAIR underwent a remarkable transformation. His vision and relentless efforts facilitated the restructuring and realignment of the airline's operational processes, aligning them with the goals of growth and profitability. Working in close collaboration with the Supervisory Board, the CFO, the employees, and all stakeholders, Mr. Cleaver achieved exceptional results, with profitability reached in just one year.

“When Country St. Maarten inherited WINAIR, it was near insolvency and required thorough improvements in accounting, operations, communications, and strategic direction”, recalls Mr. Michael Cleaver, “The transformation and resurrection of WINAIR was a true team effort and would not have been possible without the support of newly appointed Chairman George Greaux Jr, CFO Roberto Gibbs, SXM Shareholder Representative Michael Ferrier under Prime Minister Sarah Westcott Williams. Equally, I was fortunate to have had regular access to founder Captain George Greaux Sr. who imparted his knowledge and wisdom on so many topics with me that gave an invaluable introspect into the business. The team set to work to reinvent WINAIR which was achieved with the efforts, dedication, and hard work of management, shareholders, and most importantly the employees of WINAIR who through years of neglect by the previous shareholders jumped into the fire and got the job done.”

WINAIR successfully withstood the formidable challenges posed by Hurricane Irma and the global COVID-19 pandemic under Mr. Cleaver's leadership. His commitment and decisive actions ensured the continuity of operations and the safeguarding of the airline's employees and customers during these trying times.

As WINAIR gears up for an exciting new chapter, the crowning achievement of Mr. Cleaver's tenure will be the imminent launch of our ATR operation. WINAIR is proud to soon unveil two new ATR-42 aircraft, marking a significant expansion and enhancement of our fleet.

We are pleased to welcome our new CEO, Mr. Hans van de Velde, a distinguished professional, who has lived and worked in three different countries, leading airlines and tourism companies. Hans brings a wealth of industry experience, strategic foresight, and a proven track record of success. With an acute understanding of the intricacies of the aviation industry, our new CEO is poised to drive WINAIR's continued growth, solidify our market presence, and propel the airline to new heights of excellence.

WINAIR extends its heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Cleaver for his outstanding contributions, remarkable achievements, and unwavering dedication to the success of the airline. The board and shareholders, employees, and stakeholders stand united in extending their best wishes for his well-deserved retirement. In the chairman’s words, “Michael is the consummate professional you want on board to drive your business successfully. He’s tirelessly passionate in what he does and has taught me so much about the aviation business world that I will be forever grateful for.”

As we embark on this exciting new chapter, WINAIR reaffirms its commitment to connecting the islands of the Caribbean, further developing regional integration, and delivering exceptional service to our valued customers. With our new CEO at the helm, we are confident in our ability to navigate the ever-changing aviation landscape and position WINAIR as the preferred choice for travel in the Caribbean.