Princess Juliana International Airport

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Princess Juliana
International Airport
Airport, Terminal JP5766234.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner Princess Juliana Int'l Airport Holding Company N.V.
Location Saint Maarten (Saint Martin)
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 14 ft / 4 m
Coordinates 18°02′27″N 063°06′34″W / 18.04083°N 63.10944°W / 18.04083; -63.10944Coordinates: 18°02′27″N 063°06′34″W / 18.04083°N 63.10944°W / 18.04083; -63.10944
SXM is located in Sint Maarten
Location in Sint Maarten
Direction Length Surface
m ft
10/28 2,300 7,546 Asphalt/Concrete

Princess Juliana International Airport (IATA: SXMICAO: TNCM) is the main airport on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, located on the Dutch side of the island in the country of Sint Maarten. In 2010, the airport handled 1,645,105 passengers and 60,870 aircraft movements.[2] The airport serves as a hub for Windward Islands Airways and is the major gateway for the smaller Leeward Islands, including Anguilla, Saba, St. Barthélemy and St. Eustatius. It is named after Queen Juliana, who landed here while still only heir presumptive in 1944, the year after the airport opened. There is also an airport on the French side of the island, called Aéroport de Grand Case or L'Espérance Airport.

The airport has very low-altitude flyover landing approaches, owing to one end of its runway being extremely close to the shore and Maho Beach.


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.

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.[3]

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.[4]

Phase II included the construction of a radar facility and a new air traffic control tower, the construction of a new and more modern, 27,000 square metres (290,000 sq ft), terminal, capable of handling 2.5 million passengers per year, and the construction of a Runway End Safety Area (RESA) of 150 metres (490 ft), including a 60 metres (200 ft) overrun, on both ends of its runway, to comply with ICAO rules. The new air traffic control tower and the radar station commenced operations on 29 March 2004, while the new terminal opened in late October 2006.[5] The terminal has 4 jetways for large aircraft like 747s.

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.[6] The new terminal building will also have more jetways and services etc.

However, the oil price increases since 2003 began impacting discretionary air travel worldwide by early 2008,[7] and the prospect of further price increases[8] threatens to reverse the recent expansion of tourist travel by jet which began with the 1980s oil glut.[9]

Runway after Hurricane Irma

In 1994, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and France signed the Franco-Dutch treaty on Saint Martin border controls, which allows for joint Franco-Dutch border controls on so-called "risk flights". After some delay, the treaty was ratified in November 2006 in the Netherlands, and subsequently entered into force on 1 August 2007.

In July 2016, KLM announced that from October it would serve the airport by direct flights from Amsterdam, instead of by a triangle route via Curaçao. Owing to this change, the airport lost its last regular Boeing 747 service, for KLM uses Airbus A330s for the changed schedule.[10] The last arrival of a 747 at the airport took place on October 28th, 2016, and Maho beach was almost completely covered with tourists and planespotters to witness the final landing and departure of the aircraft. In September 2017, KLM announced to reinstate the triangle route via Curaçao, however the A330s remain in operation.[11]

On 6 September 2017, the airport suffered significant damage when Hurricane Irma struck the island as a Category 5 hurricane. Video from a Dutch military helicopter showed the roof had been blown off the terminal, the jetways were damaged, and there was a significant amount of sand (blown through the fences from Maho Beach) and flooding on the runway. [12] The airport reopened on 10 October.[13]


Warning sign between runway 10 and Maho Beach
Spectators at Maho Beach
Terminal interior


Because the approach to Runway 10 is over water, pilots can become disoriented regarding their perceived altitude when operating under visual flight rules.[citation needed] Normal instrument checks, coupled with experience and situational awareness, mitigate potential problems. The departure from Runway 10 presents more "difficulties" than the approach, with a turn required to avoid mountains in the departure path.[citation needed]

Arriving aircraft approach the island on the last section of the final approach for Runway 10, following a 3° glide slope flying low over the famous Maho Beach. Pictures of low-flying aircraft were published in several news magazines worldwide in early 2000.[citation needed] 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-metre (490 ft) safety extension was required.[citation needed]

Despite the reputed difficulties in approach, there have been no records of major incidents at the airport, although ALM Flight 980 crashed 30 miles (48 km) from St. Croix on 2 May 1970, after several unsuccessful landing attempts at TNCM in bad weather.[citation needed]

Runway 10/28 was renumbered from 09/27 in late 2008.[1]

The runway is 45m wide.


The main apron measures 72,500 square metres (780,000 sq ft) with another 5,000 square metres (54,000 sq ft) on Eastern apron. For freight handling a dedicated apron of 7,000 square metres (75,000 sq ft) is available.[14]


Designed to handle some 2.5 million passengers annually, the new four-story terminal building offers 30,500 square metres (328,000 sq ft) of floor space and is fully air-conditioned. Available facilities include 46 check-in desks, 10 transit desks and 13 boarding gates. There are 20 immigration booths for arriving passengers and five exit-control booths for departing passengers.[15] The building also features 40 shops and food & beverage units—some unique to St. Maarten—promoted under the retail theme 'So Much More'.

The structure has been reportedly destroyed by Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017, with fragments strewn across the runway and a jet bridge snapped in half, before communications were severed by the storm.

General aviation

To accommodate the growing international and local traffic of private aircraft, PJIA has a Fixed-Base Operator building, offering office space and private lounges with dedicated customs.[14]


Since official opening of the new control tower, PJIA air traffic controllers have two radar systems at their disposal with ranges of 50 nautical miles (93 km) and 250 nautical miles (460 km). PJIA controllers manage 4,000 square NM of airspace known as the Juliana TCA around the airport, roughly between 25 nautical miles (46 km) and 42 nautical miles (78 km) of the St Maarten VOR-DME. Besides providing approach, tower and ground control at PJIA, these controllers also provide approach control for Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport (Anguilla), L'Espérance Airport (French Saint Martin), Gustaf III Airport (St. Barths), F.D. Roosevelt Airport (St. Eustatius) and Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (Saba).


PJIA is equipped with VOR/DME and NDB. The airport's official operating hours are 07:00–21:00.[14]

Airlines and destinations

An Air France Airbus A340-300 flying over Maho Beach shortly before touch-down
An Air Caraïbes Airbus A330-300 flying over Maho Beach shortly before touch-down
Airlines Destinations
Air Canada Rouge Seasonal: Toronto–Pearson
Air Caraïbes Paris–Orly, Port-au-Prince
Seasonal: Pointe-à-Pitre
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Air Sunshine Anguilla, Dominica - Douglas-Charles, Nevis, Saint Thomas, San Juan, Tortola, Virgin Gorda
Air Transat Seasonal: Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
Anguilla Air Services Anguilla
American Airlines Charlotte, Miami, Philadelphia
Seasonal: New York–JFK
Caribbean Airlines Kingston–Norman Manley, Port of Spain
Copa Airlines Panama City
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, New York–JFK
Fly All Ways Charter: Paramaribo
Insel Air Curaçao
InterCaribbean Airways Tortola
JetBlue Airways Boston, New York–JFK
KLM Amsterdam
LIAT Antigua, Barbados, Saint Croix, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia–Vigie, Tortola
PAWA Dominicana Antigua, Santo Domingo–Las Américas1
Seaborne Airlines San Juan
Spirit Airlines Fort Lauderdale
St Barth Commuter St. Barthélemy
Sky High Aviation Services Santiago de los Caballeros, Santo Domingo–Las Américas
Sun Country Airlines Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul
Sunwing Airlines Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
Trans Anguilla Airways Anguilla
United Airlines Newark, Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare
WestJet Toronto–Pearson
Winair Antigua, Dominica-Canefield, Nevis, Saba, San Juan, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint Kitts, Sint Eustatius, Tortola
operated by Air Antilles Express
Dominica - Douglas-Charles, Pointe-à-Pitre, San Juan
operated by PAWA Dominicana
Curaçao, Port au Prince
XL Airways France Seasonal: Paris-Charles de Gaulle2
  • ^1 PAWA's flights to and from Antigua fly via St. Maarten.
  • ^2 XL Airways France flights operate from Sint Maarten to Guadeloupe before continuing to Paris. However, the airline doesn't have cabotage rights to transport passengers solely between Sint Maarten and Guadeloupe.


Airlines Destinations
Ameriflight San Juan
Amerijet International Miami, Santiago de los Caballeros, Santo Domingo
DHL Aviation Antigua
FedEx Feeder
operated by Mountain Air Cargo
San Juan

Accidents and incidents

  • On 2 May 1970, ALM Flight 980, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9CF crashed into the ocean in bad weather, killing 22 of the 57 passengers in addition to one crew member. The cause was found to be fuel exhaustion, due to several attempts to land the aircraft. The aircraft was not recovered.
  • On 21 December 1972, a De Havilland Canada Twin Otter operated by Air Guadeloupe on behalf of Air France crashed at night into the ocean near Saint Maarten, en route from Guadeloupe; all 11 passengers on board, along with both pilots, died.
  • On 30 October 2014, Skyway Enterprises Flight 7101, a Shorts SD-360 on behalf of FedEx, registration N380MQ performing flight SKZ-7101 from Saint Maarten (Dutch Antilles) to San Juan (Puerto Rico) with 2 crew, was climbing out of Saint Maarten's runway 28 when the aircraft lost height and impacted waters about 2 nautical miles (3.7 km; 2.3 mi) off the coast (end of runway) at about 18:35L (22:35Z). Both pilots died.[citation needed]
  • On 13 July 2017, a 57-year-old woman from New Zealand was holding on the fence at Runway 10. A Departing Boeing 737 was lined up on that runway; as it departed, the woman lost her grip on the fence and the plane's jet blast threw her backward, either hitting the asphalt on the traversing roadway behind her or a concrete curb. She died as a result of a fatal head injury. This was the first fatality at the airport from "riding the fence", which is when people hang on to the chain-link fence at the end of Runway 10 as an aircraft departs, attempting to withstand jet blast.[16]

In popular culture

  • Princess Juliana International Airport is the airport featured in the free demo version of Microsoft Flight Simulator X. In the full version of the program, it is the destination on the mission called "Caribbean Landing" where you land a regional jet on runway 10.
  • The History Channel program Most Extreme Airports ranks Princess Juliana Airport as the 4th most dangerous airport in the world.[17]

See also


  1. ^ a b on:Princess Juliana International Airport, visited 20 December 2011
  2. ^ Annual Report 2010, visited 2 March 2016
  3. ^ Company website with PJIAE Masterplan, visited 21 December 2011
  4. ^ Masterplan Phase I: 1997–2001, visited 21 December 2011
  5. ^ PJIAE Masterplan Phase II, visited 21 December 2011
  6. ^ PJIAE Masterplan: Phase III, visited 21 December 2011
  7. ^ Adams, Marilyn. "Rising costs reshaping air travel across the USA". USA Today. Retrieved 10 May 2008. 
  8. ^ Lesova, Polya (6 May 2008). "Goldman Sachs: Oil Prices May Hit $150–$200 a Barrel". Fox Business Network. Retrieved 8 May 2008.  Archived 11 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Whipple, Tom. "The Peak Oil Crisis: The Half-Life For Air Travel". Retrieved 10 May 2008. 
  10. ^ - "Cult airport St. Maarten loses Boeing 747" (German) 5 July 2016
  11. ^
  12. ^ - "World famous St Maarten airport destroyed by Hurricane Irma" 6 September 2017
  13. ^ "Rebuilding of SXM Airport Terminal Building Will Commence Soon". Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company. 5 October 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017. 
  14. ^ a b c PJIA website: PJIAE Company Profile, 2007, visited 20 December 2011
  15. ^ "Princess Juliana International Airport". Retrieved 28 November 2016. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ Most Extreme Airports; The History Channel; 26 August 2010

External links

Media related to Princess Juliana Airport at Wikimedia Commons

  • Princess Juliana International Airport (Official Website)
  • Aviation Pioneers of the Caribbean
  • Airport information for TNCM at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.Source: DAFIF.
  • Airport information for TNCM/SXM at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective October 2006).
  • Airport information for TNCM at AirportNavFinder
  • Airport webcam, flight timetables & pilot data links
  • Current weather for TNCM at NOAA/NWS
  • Accident history for SXM at Aviation Safety Network
Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Princess Juliana International Airport"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA