Michael Ferrier furious about Leonard’s Winair-questions

POSTED: 08/11/14 3:02 PM

St. Maarten – Michael Ferrier, former chairman of the Winair ad hoc committee, has lashed out at UP MP Johan Leonard for “recklessly endangering the jobs of 126 Winair employees”. Last Friday, Leonard announced in a press release that he had sent a letter to the President of Parliament. Through her, he posed numerous questions to Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, Winair’s shareholder representative about an alleged exorbitant debt Winair would have with a Guadeloupe company from whom it “wet-leases” ATR aircraft for its new routes, some of which have in the meantime been discontinued.

Ferrier acknowledges in a press statement of his own the right of the MP to ask any question about decisions, the decision making process and the results of those decisions in and by government-owned companies. He is however highly critical of Leonard’s modus operandi in this case.

“It is common knowledge this MP has little, if any, business acumen. However, even a high school drop-out knows that by publicly questioning the level of a certain (real, or as in this case, fictitious) extremely high debt of a company, one promotes the risk of other creditors of that company to take fiscal and/or legal actions to safe-guard their interests. This in turn can trigger a “run” on the company’s assets with all disastrous consequences one can imagine, including bankruptcy and loss of jobs. On St. Maarten Winair presently employs a staff of 126 mostly permanent/full-time professionals,” commented Ferrier.

Ferrier continued by wondering why Leonard could not first have picked up the phone and called either the CEO or the CFO, both Managing Directors of the company and verified the figure before coming out in great drama about “a supposed debt of $1.4 Million owed to a Guadeloupe based airline from whom the ATR aircraft is being leased.

“When I called Winair’s Chief Financial Officer to verify the amount thrown out by MP Johan Leonard, I was told that per August 8, 2014, Winair had a payable to the Guadeloupe airline of   $472,960 and a receivable  from the same company in the amount of $359,503.60, netting out a normal, ongoing trade-debt to the French airline company of $113,456.40. this is a far cry from the figure quoted by the UPsetting MP,” Ferrier stated.

He went on to question why MP Leonard chose to go this route. “Is it to try and embarrass Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, who is the shareholder rep of Winair or is it to incite other Winair creditors into actions to cripple the national airline so that the road can be paved for possible UP-friendly investors to establish a new, long talked about St. Maarten Airline?”

In a related comment, Ferrier, who is a candidate on the Democratic Party’s list for the upcoming parliamentary elections, expressed disappointment in the decision of one of St. Maarten’s daily newspapers (The Daily Herald – ed.) to contribute their two cents to UP party MP Johan Leonard’s reckless and damaging public questioning of Winair. They added fuel to Leonard’s bogus fire with their Saturday, August 9 editorial by stating that Leonard’s concern is understandable. “The editorial staff could have done some investigations themselves before jumping onto MP Leonard’s bandwagon, could they not?” Ferrier stated.


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