SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Finance Minister Michael "Mike" Ferrier along with three civil servants left the country for the Netherlands on Tuesday, via Curacao.
Ferrier, a pilot, will fly a privately owned aircraft from Princess Juliana International Airport to Hato International to connect to Royal Dutch Airline KLM.
"This is the quickest and cheapest and most cost effective way to Holland,” Ferrier said before departure.
The plane belongs to a company owned by pilot friend of Ferrier, and comes with no cost to government. “We use each other’s airplane and have an ongoing agreement that calls for the pickup of direct cost such as fuel and airport expenses by he who flies which ever airplane. I fly, so I pay,” said Ferrier adding, “…besides saving Government money, I get to pursue my favorite hobby and at the same time contribute to trying to dig St. Maarten out of the hole created by a natural disaster on one hand and the subsequent mismanagement of the recovery by the previous Government on the other hand.
"This trip to Holland is to make sure St. Maarten gets all the possible funds it can for the recovery process. And in getting to Europe, I have ensured there is no unnecessary expense for government," said Ferrier.
Out of Curaçao the minister is flying “in the back of the bus” with the civil servants. It has been customary for ministers to fly business class on official trips.
Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin will join Ferrier in the Netherlands for the continued discussions on how best to access the promised Dutch recovery aid. She is travelling to The Hague via the United States using American Airlines. She did not make the trip together with Ferrier because her schedule did not permit the same travel itinerary.
The trip is also "to thank the government and people of Holland for their continued support," said Ferrier.
After their joint meetings in The Hague, Ferrier returns home on Sunday and Romeo-Marlin will go on to Brussels, Belgium, for meetings with European Union (EU) to attend the 16th EU O.C.T. conference where she will chair the CARIBBEAN Regional Ministerial meeting plus participate in other meetings at the conference.
"The prime minister's meetings in Brussels are not related to my portfolio, so I am coming back home as soon as possible. There is work to be done here," said Ferrier.
PHOTO CUTLINE: A copy of the commercial pilot's license of Michael Ferrier from the United States Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).