Michael Cleaver likely replacement Hodge as Winair managerPOSTED: 08/26/11 12:26 PM
SABA—The General Manager of Windward Islands Airways Edwin Hodge is to be replaced but will stay on with the company as the Chief Operations Officer, said former Commissioner and member of the Ad Hoc committee Michael Ferrier. Even though he did not say who will be taking the helm of Winair it is said that former Station Manager of American Airlines Michael Cleaver will be a likely candidate for the position.
The discussions between Ferrier and Cleaver to take up the position at Winair have been ongoing for several months but this news paper understands that Cleaver who has resigned from American Airlines following a conflict has been saying that he is now retired and is reluctant to start to work again. The announcement to remove Edward Hodge as the General Manager for of the airline was done on Saba while the airline was celebrating its Golden Jubilee on Wednesday.
He said that Hodge is being kept in the company because of the “wealth of knowledge of the airline and his experience in the aviation field.”
Ferrier in his comment on the future for Winair said that the “the future of Windward Islands Airways is still one in a balance, since 10-10-10 the government of St. Maarten has taken over 92% of the shares of the company and the government of the Netherlands the remaining 8%.”
Winair has suffered from a lack of support from its shareholder, the government of the Netherlands Antilles.
“We have a job ahead of us,” said Ferrier “and this includes the new Board of Directors which is headed by the son of the former founder of the airline George Greaux Jr., and they have a job ahead of them with the new management team that they have put together, said Ferrier.
Presently, Winair has huge debts “which has been racked up over the years” and as a result the new management team sees this as a “two-tier” situation.
They are in discussions on how would they take care of the “old debt” and make the operations profitable since they cannot continue with what they are doing. “We are going to fix that, since we have started that already by going back to the core business which is flying to Saba, Statia, St. Barths and Nevis which will have the sustain Winair for the time being,” said Ferrier.
They plan to get the operations to what it was and then look at the future of Winair. He said that the airline is here to stay and with the enthusiasm of the employees and the management team and the new Supervisory Board of Directors and as a result we are assured that WINAIR will continue to fly high.
There are apparently no plans to look at other aircrafts for the future of the airline, said Ferrier since they will be concentrating on the present situation of the company. He mentioned that in the early 70’s they had experiment with another larger aircraft F27’s and then in the early 90’s they brought in the WS11 aircraft both of the adventures brought huge losses for the company.
“We are good at what we do flying the Twin-Otter aircraft into these islands and we need to concentrate on it the best way that we can. We will be getting into the charter market again since we have given up on it because of the airline business. This decision has made a number of other companies grow and get into the charter market business.”
He continued: “There are a number of people who come to St. Maarten and want to go to the other smaller Islands such as St. Barths and Anguilla. We have dropped the ball a little bit and we intend to prove this service which will be second to none.