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Friday, 8 February 2013 08:42


WILLEMSTAD — Ralph Blanchard was welcomed as the new CEO of Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP) during a ‘meet and greet’ yesterday. Blanchard is a seasoned manager with his thirty years experience in aviation and airports. In his speech, he explained what he considers the most important task for CAP: providing the infrastructure and facilities for what Curaçao sells, namely tourism and good fortune.Although Blanchard (62) is new on Curaçao, he is not new in the Caribbean area. He was born and bred on St. Thomas, one of the American Virgin Islands, ‘much smaller than Curaçao’. He became a pilot and studied aviation business management in the United States at the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. This was followed by a career in the Middle East, the Caribbean area and the United States. Before coming to Curaçao, he was chief administrative officer (CAO) of the Californian Sacramento Airport System, which includes a total of four airports. Blanchard succeeded Albert Brunner, who was CEO of CAP for three years until he retired recently.


His most important targets are providing for a safe and pleasant airport and surrounding area, with a large focus on service by personnel, ‘because everything is done by the latter’. The physical infrastructure must come ‘up to speed’ entirely, with an expansion in the future. Working together with all stakeholders at and around the airport is of cardinal importance. “There will be challenges but these are surmountable with some understanding and cooperation of all parties involved. Our passengers are the source of our income and they guarantee our success, but they have choices. We must always offer the best possible service and airport customer service-experience”, said Blanchard.

Later in the day Minister of Economic Development, Steven Martina (Pais) joined the numerous representatives of airline companies and other relations from CAP at the ‘meet and greet’ for Blanchard. According to Minister Martina, continuous improvements on comfort and service are indeed necessary at the airport, starting with – if it were up to him – the installation of air-conditioning in the check in hall.


Airport rates

Late last year the Parliament approved the increase of passenger facility charges, landing fees and transfer costs. This led to criticism on the government and CAP from associations of airline companies because the rates were introduced suddenly and considered to have a negative impact on tourism. CAP argued that the rates hadn’t increased since 2006 and that a large part would be used to invest in the airport. Ralph Blanchard chose his words carefully yesterday, stating “One must always proceed cautiously with increases. It’s a delicate matter. One must remain efficient and good communication is important. My advice is: always discuss matters in advance.”