SIMPSON BAY, St. Maarten — Over 200 invited guests gathered at Gate A1 of the Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) on Saturday evening for a first class presentation of the rebranding of the St. Maarten airport, which also serves as a leading Caribbean travel and transit hub.
Prime Minister Sarah Wescott-Williams, Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin, and Minister of Transport, Economic Affairs and Telecommunications Romeo Pantophlet, along with ministers Hon. Roland Duncan, Hon. Silveria Jacobs, Hon. Cornelius de Weever, and Member of Parliament Drs. Gracita Arrindell, joined a full range of airport stakeholders, tourism officials from both parts of the island, and leaders of the legal, insurance and banking communities, SXM board and management officers and personnel, and the media among others, for what the airport’s Supervisory Board of Directors Chairman Clarence Derby called, a “historical evening.”
“After … 70 years of wearing the same look … we are all gathered here … to officially unveil … the new 21st Century look of Princess Juliana International Airport,” said Regina LaBega, Managing Director of the SXM Airport operating company.
In her opening address, at Gate A1, elegantly transformed with dark blue and teal décor, LaBega told an attentive audience that, “Re-branding is a universal phenomenon, which is common among businesses all over the world. Companies re-brand in order to remain relevant, keep abreast of the times, or to get an edge over the competition,” and as “an effective marketing tool.”
At SXM, “our whole aim is to re-position the Princess Juliana International Airport as a leading hub in the Caribbean and to promote our ultra-modern facilities and the quality of our services,” said LaBega.
“The re-branding is a comprehensive make-over, with a logo inspired by the IATA destination code for the airport – SXM – which is eye-catching and easy to identify and remember,” said LaBega.
Derby joined LaBega in pointing out that, “The timing for this event could not be more perfect: with the airport acquiring its Baa2 investment grade ratings from Moody’s,” repurchasing its old bonds, offering of new bonds – oversubscribed from the inception by foreign and St. Maarten investors; raising over $130 Million at a 5.5% interest rate; and recently voted as the airport with the most stunning landing in the world by privatefly.com.
The new brand image launch also coincides with the just re-branded website; the start of runway resurfacing, and airport expansion project, which includes the new FBO building to better service private plane passengers; constructing a new 15,000 barrel fuel farm at the airport to eliminate running out of fuel, and “revamping the concession space, integrating art with retail, and food and beverage, to maximize non-aeronautical revenues and “provide a first class environment to radically improve passenger experience,” all “coupled with the lady celebrating her seventieth birthday,” said Derby.
Minister of Transport, Economic Affairs and Telecommunications Romeo Pantophlet said that the “government of St. Maarten is proud of the improvement of the airport in the past years.” He praised past and present airport workers and directors.
Rafael Cardozo, president of the marketing agency Tambourine, explained the research and design process that produced the new brand.
Cardozo said that special note was taken of “the lines and forms of the architecture of the airport.” He emphasized that Tambourine listened to the story of the island, its people, including those who worked at SXM, and then “put all of the ingredients together” to create the new brand, “a symbol of growth and prosperity.”
Cardozo’s presentation was highlighted by two videos. The 6o second video in particular showcased key aspects of the airport, ending with the new logo, and its accompanying signature slogan: “SXM – The experience will move you.”
A much-enjoyed feature of the launch was on a fashion show of past and present airport uniforms by SXM staff and managers – Robin, Stefania, Peggy, Mirto, Hilda, Ambrose, and Erica. The spiffy new grey and navy and teal uniforms that will soon be introduced to the company were also modeled.
Manager of Marketing & Communications, Kalifa Hickinson, expressed her delight at officially launching the new look of SXM airport. “We have worked very hard and have been looking forward to this day – we are very, very proud,” she noted.
Special Projects Coordinator Robert Brown, a rebranding planning committee member, said that the SXM airport “employees felt good after working long hours on getting it right.”
The rebranding tasks included “changing all the visible logos in the facility and on service vehicles, then other gradual changes,” which culminated with the rebranding ceremony, said Brown.
The Soualiga Brass band performed early the program while the Kool Berry Jam band performed after the launch presentation. Radio personality Jacques “Billy D” Hamlet served as the Master of Ceremony.
A celebrity-style “after party,” with the live performance by Onyan and the 3 Cylinder band, took place at Tantra nightclub for all of the guests of the SXM rebranding launch.