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Princess Juliana International Airport serves the Dutch part of the island of Saint Martinmarker. It is the third busiest airport in the Eastern Caribbean, after Luis Muñoz Marín International Airportmarker in San Juan, Puerto Ricomarker and Las Americas International airport in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In 2005, the airport handled 1,663,226 passengers. The airport serves as a hub for Windward Islands Airways and is the major gateway for the smaller Leeward Islands, including Anguillamarker, Sabamarker, St. Barthélemymarker and St. Eustatiusmarker. 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 near Marigotmarker, called Aéroport de Grand Case or L'Espérance Airportmarker.

History

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.

Modernisation

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, , terminal, capable of handling 2.5 million passengers per year, and the construction of a Runway End Safety Area (RESA) of , including a overrun, on both ends of its runway, to comply with ICAOmarker rules. The new air traffic control tower and the radar station commenced operations on March 29, 2004, while the new terminal opened on November 10, 2006.

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.

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.

Runway and facilities

Video of airplane landing at Juliana International Airport


Because the approach is over water pilots can be disorientated with regards to perceived altitude when flying visually. Normal instrument checks coupled with experience and awareness ensure this is not a problem. In fact, the departure presents more "difficulties" than the approach, with a turn required to avoid mountains in the departure path.

Incoming airplanes approach the island on short final for Runway 10 flying low over the famous Maho Beachmarker. At any other airport aircraft fly at the same altitude at that point in the approach. Pictures of low flying aircraft were published in several news magazines worldwide in early 2000 and looked so unreal that some were even disputed as fakes. 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 meter safety extension was required.

Despite the reputed difficulties in approach, there have been no records of major incidents at the airport, though ALM Flight 980 crashed 30 miles from St. Croix after several unsuccessful landing attempts at Saint Maarten-Juliana Airport.

Towards the end of 2008, runway 09/27 has changed and now has a new QFU: 10/28.

Apron

The main apron measures 72.500 m² with another 5.000 m² on Eastern apron. For freight handling a dedicated apron of 7.000 m² is available.

Terminal

The new 4 story terminal building offers 27,000 m² floor space and is fully airconditioned. Available facilities include 42 check-in desks, 8 transit-desks and 11 boarding-gates. For arriving passengers 10 immigration booths are available and 5 emigration booths for departures.The building also features 40 shops and food & beverage units -some unique to St. Maarten-, promoted under the retail theme 'So Much More'.

Private aviation

To accommodate the growing international and local traffic of private aircraft Princess Juliana International Airport has a Fixed Base Operators building, offering office space and private lounges with dedicated Customs.

Tower

Since official opening of the new control-tower PJIA Air Traffic Controllers have two radar systems at their disposal with a range of and . PJIA air traffic control manages 4.000 square NM of airspace around the airport. Besides providing approach, tower and ground control at PJIA, Juliana air traffic services also provides approach control for Wallblake Airport (Anguilla), L'Esperance Airport (Grand Case, French West Indies), Gustave Airport (St. Barths, French West Indies), F.D. Roosevelt Airport (St. Eustatius, Netherlands Antilles) and Y. Yrasquin Airport (Saba, Netherlands Antilles).

Navigation

PJIA is equipped with VOR/DME and NDB. The airport's official opening hours are from 07:00 - 21:00 hrs.

In Popular Culture

TNCM is the featured airport in the Microsoft Flight Simulator X free demo version.

Many aviation enthusiasts and plane spotters flock to Maho Beachmarker at the airport for some good photos of landing aircraft.

Airlines and destinations

Cargo airlines

Gallery

Image:StMaartenApproach.jpg|A Piper PA-28 Cherokee light aircraft on short final for, at the time, Runway 09.Image:06-SXM-airport1s.jpg|The new Terminal building from the inside.Image:SXMDanger.jpg|This sign warns people that standing too close to the airport fence on Maho Beachmarker can be dangerous...

See also



References

  1. Traffic statistics
  2. PJIAE Masterplan
  3. Phase I
  4. Phase II
  5. Phase III
  6. http://www.ianandwendy.com/st-martin
  7. http://www.airnav.com/airport/TNCM
  8. PJIAE Company Profile (2007)


External links




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