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Reina Beatrix Airport, the face of Aruba

Article - August 23, 2012
Most of Aruba’s visitors enjoy the convenience of air travel by flying into Aruba’s state-of-the-art Reina Beatrix International Airport
Picturesque Aruba draws tourists year-round thanks to its consistently sunny weather, low humidity, and amazing hotels and resorts. Being part of the Dutch Kingdom and located in the Caribbean, Aruba has a privileged strategic geographic position within the Americas, which makes for an interesting air service option within the region.

Served by airlines worldwide, and large enough to accommodate a Boeing 747 jet and 2.5 million passengers each year, the Reina Beatrix International Airport makes getting into Aruba almost as easy as relaxing on a beach.

With more than 25 valued airline partners providing non-stop service to more than 30 gateways worldwide, Reina Beatrix International Airport, which is operated by Aruba Airport Authority N.V., has become one of the region’s most modern, accommodating, safe and secure airports.

Aruba Airport Authority’s business is twofold: to manage and operate the airport and to create a prosperous airport business community which contributes to the economic growth and development of Aruba. “The current situation is better than expected,” says Peter Steinmetz, CEO of the Aruba Airport Authority.

“With all the global economic developments, such as the eurozone crisis and the aftereffects of the banking crisis in the U.S., we would have expected our economic situation to not be as good as we have in fact experienced. In the early days of 2011 we really thought that we would have difficulty seeing growth. Looking back on that year and the first quarter of 2012, we did surprisingly well in the sense that our growth maintained at good levels. That has to do with the tourism industry, which is by nature, a growth industry. I firmly believe that tourism is actually expanding and increasing on a continuous basis.”

To coincide with tourism’s growth, the airport authority has expansion plans and is investing heavily in its aviation services. “We are not going to build a new terminal or anything like that – it is not that type of expansion,” says Mr. Steinmetz. “We can increase capacity with smart solutions, incorporating IT and off-airport service in the future, but I think the current facility should by and large be sufficient to handle up to 2.5 million visitors in the long term.

“In total, we are investing about 36 million Aruban florins, which is about $20 million, over the years. This is just for the private flights, but it coincides with Aruba’s strategy to have quality over quantity. This is the highest segment you can get. We are working with an operator that also has stations in the U.S. and in Brazil, so Aruba can work as a bridge between the two.”

The airport authority is also investing in service improvement to enhance the overall passenger experience.

“You try to implement service improvements, such as to eliminate long lines and all kinds of bottlenecks, as well as general beautification,” explains the CEO. “A couple of years ago we also improved our commercial products and substantially increased our revenues from that. That revenue can then be spent in other issues. We do spend a lot of money on service improvements and passenger experience.”

He concludes: “As an airport, our philosophy has always been that we have to do what we are good at. Then you invite other parties from the private sector who are specialists in their fields, to perform functions at the airport as contracted by the airport company. We are actually pioneers in practicing that kind of philosophy without it being a government philosophy from the start.”