Surinam Airways board chairman ready to defend his position

PARAMARIBO – Gerard Brunings, chairman of the Supervisory Board of national carrier Surinam Airways, is confident the government will side with him in the dispute that has arisen with the rest of the Board. Four of the board’s seven members expressed no confidence in Brunings. “There is no reason for me to resign. On the contrary, their position is weak,” Brunings tells de Ware Tijd.

The entry of airline Dutch Antilles Express (DAE) from Curaçao on the Surinamese market in November 2012 seems to be the source of the dispute “The government ordered me to facilitate this,” Brunings says. Apparently, the Board did not support that decision.

In a letter, board members Leo Brunswijk, Jerry Dollard, Dino Somohardjo and F. Pallata claim that in his position as senior adviser of the President in aviation matters, Brunings “absolutely did not take into account the interests of Surinam Airways during negotiations.” Brunings allegedly cannot get along with Surinam Airways general director Ewald Henshuijs as well. Jerry Dollard refused to get into details about the letter.

Brunings claims the board members involved are putting the company’s interests above the country’s. “The government’s policy is to end Suriname’s isolation by allowing as many airlines as possible to fly as frequently as possible.” Surinam Airways is not the basis of policy in this, but a stakeholder. “The impression is created that the majority of the board decides in important matters, but that is not the case. It is the Surinam Airways’s owner who decides, and that is the government.”

Brunings believes a change of culture is needed, saying, “Policy has always been focused on protecting the airline, and maintaining the small market of flights to and from the Netherlands.”

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