Transportation by Air

“When asked to identify the current issues of critical interest to hoteliers, the banks and non-bank communities were consistent in their views as they were last year. Airlift was again identified as the most critical issue cited by 88% of bank respondents and 100% of non-bank respondents.”  KPMG 2015 Caribbean Hospitality Financing Survey

Saint Martin is one of the most accessible islands in the Caribbean with air service to 20 non-Caribbean destinations, as well as throughout the Caribbean. The airport is the second largest in the Caribbean behind the San Juan Luis Munoz airport in Puerto Rico. It 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. The island of St. Martin has an international airport on the Dutch side, Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), and a regional airport on the French side, Grand-Case Regional Airport (CCE). Princess Juliana International Airport is located a short 10-15 minute drive from the La Belle Creole Hotel property.

Princess Juliana International Airport has a capacity of over 2.5 million passengers per year. The runway length is 2,100 meters (7,100 feet) vs. the neighboring St Barthelemy Airport, which only has a runway length of 650 meters (2,133 feet) precluding major commercial flights both from the United States and Internationally.

The airport recently completed a three phase renovation with a total capital expenditure of over $100MM in improvements. Airport upgrades include a new terminal building with check-in and baggage-reclaim facilities on the ground floor. The facility also contains a new departure lounge and main shopping area with 21 duty free shops, 5 restaurants and 3 bars, all located on the first floor to serve twelve boarding gates as well as four new jet bridges. A separate, 2,000 m2 cargo facility built to handle 10,000 tons of cargo per year, is located nearby the Terminal Building. A newly constructed and integrated ATC tower and radar facility commenced operation on March 29, 2004.

Airlines Serving SXM

Jet Blue, Spirit, United, American Airlines, Delta, Air Canada, West Jet, Air Transat, Air Sunshine, Cape Air, Liat, and Winair

Cities with Direct Flights

New York, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, Washington DC, Charlotte, Miami, Philadelphia, Newark, Panama, Toronto, Montreal, Paris, and Amsterdam.

Commercial Passenger Markets 2013

The USA continues to be the largest market for SXM in enplaned passenger movements, accounting, in 2013, for 50% of the total scheduled passengers. In 2013 such passengers totaled 386,073, a 6.9% increase when compared to the 2012 total of 361,225 and 15.4% over the level in 2011 of some 334,674 passengers.

The Caribbean market contributes the second highest number of passengers to SXM (223,908) at 28.4% of the total in 2013, a 7.4% decrease in such enplaned passengers compared to the 2012 total of 241,866.

The European market, accounting for 14.0% of the SXM total in 2013, had an enplaned passenger volume of 110,115 which was a decrease of 2.5% in comparison to the 2012 total of 112,953 with a similar decrease relative to 2011 as 2011 and 2012 were virtually at the same level.

In 2013, the Canadian market at 41,750 passengers was 5.3% of the total with the enplaned passenger volume increasing by 25.6% relative to 2012, ostensibly due to increased services of Sunwing and WestJet. Over the three year time frame, 2011 to 2013, the increase however was a phenomenal 110.8%.

The Central/South American market served by Copa, had a 26.0% reduction in 2013 from 2012 but virtually the same level of passengers as in 2011 at 10,540.  The reduction can be attributed to the airline’s decrease in frequency from four to two times weekly, however, in December 2013, Copa reinstated its four times weekly service to SXM.  Typical of analytical statistics in the region, more recent information is difficult to obtain.

Key Airport Figures
Comparative Caribbean Island Visitor Growth

Saint Martin saw a +10.1% increase in visitor arrivals over the three year period compared to the market with the most growth, Curacao, at +12.7% and the one with least growth, Antigua at +1.1%.  Overall, Saint Martin’s +10.1% growth was higher than the eight island average increase of +9.4% over the three year time frame and not too far off the two highest growth markets of Curacao and Aruba.  The actual volumes and growth rates for 2011 and 2013 are shown in Table 1.

Caribbean Island Overall Visitors by Origin

Highlights of Saint Martin’s size of various markets relative to other selected Caribbean islands, by origin market for 2015, Of the eight Caribbean islands, Saint Martin had:

  • The third most number of USA visitors,
  • The highest number of Canada visitors,
  • The second highest number of visitors from Europe.
  • The fourth highest number of visitors from the Caribbean & Central/south America.
  • Overall, Saint Martin ranked third of all 8 islands in total visitors.  The full details of these statistics are provided in Table 2:
Caribbean island 2013 Visitor Growth, Related to 2011, by Market Origin

Saint Martin had the highest growth in USA visitors (+12.3%) compared to the eight island average of 8.4% with the least growth being at Curacao at negative growth of 1.4%. For Canadians, Saint Martin also had the highest growth at +39.2% followed by Antigua at +35.9% while Puerto Rico suffered a 6.3% drop in Canadian visitors.  European traffic at St. Maarten was up by 2.3% with only two other islands having positive growth with Dominica achieving the most at +17.5% and Aruba showing a 4.8% reduction.  For other visitors that include Caribbean and Central/South America residents, Aruba (+39.3%) and Curacao (+28.5%) had the most growth, while Saint Martin had minor growth at +0.8% but two other islands had reductions.  The changes in such traffic, for 2015, is referenced in Table 3.

Transportation by Sea
Port Traffic

The Port of Sint Maarten is considered one of the most modern port facilities in the North Eastern Caribbean and plays an important role in trans-shipping.

Some of the largest and most renowned cruise ships disembark their passengers at the Dr. A. C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facility in Dutch St. Maarten.  It is not unusual to see three of these enormous “sea monsters” at dock at the same time while their passengers hurry into Front Street and Back Street to enjoy the tax free shopping.  The port accommodates more than 1.6 million passengers a year.  As of June 2015, cruise passenger arrivals were up more than 14 percent.  It primarily accommodates ships associated with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, namely Carnival, Celebrity, Cunard, Disney, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Radisson Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Topaz International Cruises and Windstar Cruises.

The European cruise lines to call at the Port of St. Maarten are AIDA Cruises, Costa Crociere S.P.A., Fred Olson Cruise Lines, Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten, Louis Cruise Lines, MSC Cruise Line (Europe) and Ponant Cruises.

Ferries to St. Barts, Anguilla, and Saba

The ferry port is located in the center of Marigot. Ferry services operate between St. Martin and St Barths (1 hour 30 minutes), Anguilla (45 minutes) and Saba. Each day, ferries also run every half hour between St. Martin and Anguilla. The crossing takes around half an hour. The first ferry leaves Marigot waterfront at 8:30 am and the last ferry leaves Anguilla at 5pm.


Saint Martin has risen to become one of the top yachting destinations in the world. Its deep water sheltered marinas in Simpson’s Bay Lagoon are ideal for larger ships, while its incredible airlift provides easy access for yacht owners and guests.  There are approximately 20 marinas on Island with only the IGY Sol Marina, Marina Ft. Louis, and Porto Cupecoy able to accommodate mega yachts to 350′.