Aruba Airport Authority N.V. sees recovery in 2021

ORANJESTAD - On April 29th, 2022, Aruba Airport Authority N.V.’s (AAA) Board of Supervisory Directors and Shareholder (Aruba), in the presence of management and the external financial auditor, have approved and adopted Aruba Airport Authority’s Annual Report 2021, including the financial statements.

The recovery of air traffic and consequently passengers handled at Aeropuerto Internacional Reina Beatrix (AUA Airport) was stronger than initially forecasted for the year 2021. The 1st quarter marked a very slow recovery coming out of the year 2020, but suddenly emerged as being a strong recovery year for the remainder of 2021. Compared to 2020 the number of passengers grew with 103% to a total of 1,842,864 passengers which was a recovery of 69% versus pre-pandemic year 2019. The recovery resulted in 28 destinations scheduled across 25 airlines in 2021. 

Joost Meijs, CEO of AAA: “Our redefined vision and strategy will give us guidance in the times to come and maximizes our added value to a sustainable economy and community in Aruba. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to our own AAA employees and the entire airport community who contributed to the results achieved during the challenging last years: the airlines, the passengers, our business partners, representatives of authorities, the Board of Supervisory Directors, our shareholder, and most importantly our employees.”

From left to right: - Mr. Garrick de Cuba, Associate Partner at Ernst & Young Accountants, Mr. Albert Braamskamp, Secretary of the Board of Supervisory Directors, Mr. Alfredo Nicolaas, Board Member,  Mr. Hubert Dirks, Board Member, Aisha Anthony, CFO AAA, Joost Meijs, CEO AAA, Minister Danguillaume Oduber, Minister of Tourism and Health, Mr. Fin Bonset, Chair of the Supervisory Board, Mr. Sven Faarup, Board Member.

Summary Annual Report/financial statements 2021

Recovery and a new strategy and organization
“Recovering with a new strategy and organization” is what characterizes the year 2021 for AAA. In 2020 AAA adjusted its organization due to the impact of COVID-19. 2021 was initiated not only with a leaner organization but also a restructured one. The organization was given further shape based on new insights and circumstances during the year 2021 and will continue to do so in the times to come.

During the first quarter of 2021 passenger and aircraft movement numbers were still lacking far behind the forecasts. In the later months of the first half of the year, much sooner than expected, the numbers went up impressively and surpassed the forecasted recovery path. Despite the negative effects of Omicron in the last weeks of 2021, a healthy recovery of 69% in passengers was reached in comparison to 2019. Due to this strong recovery and responsible cost management, 2021 turned into a sound financial year. This swift recovery was a result of the government implementing the right COVID-19 measures, excellent collaboration between public and private parties in the health and tourism sector, and a strong and joint performance by AAA employees.

With the current insights AAA foresees a further recovery in 2022 up to around 90% (versus 2019), whilst being very cautious as the current COVID-19 situation is still fluid and may negatively impact the aviation industry in 2022.

Operational challenges
The swift recovery did pose operational challenges in 2021. Due to the extra health checks upon arrival and departure, the airport facilities were perceived and experienced as too small for the passenger load, especially during peak hours.

The Airport has advocated the need for as much online and digital handling of these health checks as possible at the local public entities and airlines to keep the island safe and at the same time to relieve the airport facilities from long passenger lines as a result of those checks. All operational departments and airport partners involved in the day-to-day operation had to scale up their manpower to be able to maintain the right quality of service.

Foreseeing passenger numbers growing further in 2022, AAA encourages its operational partners to invest timely in additional (manpower) resources to handle the passengers and their baggage adequately and to make use of new technologies here for.

Gateway 2030 and apron investments
In 2021 AAA signed a contract for the execution of the first phase 1A of the Gateway 2030 program with the so-called ABC Project Venture, a combination of five local construction companies (Albo, AWM, Bohama, CHS and Croon). Working with Aruban companies guarantees that a big portion of the related investment of USD 140 mio flows back into the Aruban economy. On the 28th of June 2021 the construction activities officially commenced. In 2024 Phase 1A will be delivered. Phase 1A entails a new state of the art Baggage Handling Hall and system and an extended US Check in hall. A preliminary plan for the remaining program of Gateway 2030 has been developed and will be executed in the years to come.

In 2021 was decided to continue with the Apron Stand Rehab Project, which entails replacing the concrete and asphalt at parking positions 3 and 4 including the fuel hydrant piping under the ground. This work had been delivered at the end of 2021.

Fixed Base Operation/General Aviation Terminal
AAA had decided to insource the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) as of the expiration date of the contract with the current third-party operator. As of January 1, 2023 AAA will operate the GAT terminal as part of the overall management and operation of the airport.

Collective labor agreement
A new collective labor agreement was agreed on for the recovery years 2021 and 2022, which is a great compliment to AAA’s employees and the unions representing them. A relatively short time frame was agreed on to be able to remain flexible as the future remains uncertain. We presented for the first time an “Arbeidsvoorwaardenreglement” to those colleagues within AAA with an individual labor agreement in a first attempt to create more unity in the secondary benefits.

Dutch Caribbean Cooperation of Airports (DCCA)
In 2021 AAA took the initiative to start a collaboration between all Dutch Caribbean Airports. This resulted in the Dutch Caribbean Cooperation of Airports (DCCA) which aims to achieve economies of scale by further enhancing and strengthening cooperation on elements like innovation, sustainability, management development, regulations, safety and security, maintenance, infrastructure, and project management. Early in 2021 and under the umbrella of DCCA, AAA started exploring the possibilities to make air service connections between the islands, over time, more affordable and sustainable for the local communities.

New corporate strategy
During 2021 all AAA employees contributed to the development of AAA’s renewed Multi Annual Corporate Strategy 2022-2026. While recovering from the COVID crisis, it was the right moment to redefine AAA’s vision 2030 and strategy for the years to come. AAA envisions to become one of the most sustainable, safe, and future proof airports of the Latin America and Caribbean region, providing a trusted workplace, modern airport facilities and excellent customer service which reflects Aruban hospitality, contributing to a prosperous future for Aruba.

Based on this vision 2030 the objectives and strategy have been defined for the years to come. The new corporate strategy is based on four pillars: 1. personal & organizational development, 2. quality of service, 3. innovations & new opportunities, and 4. sustainability & social responsibility.


Corporate Social Responsibility
In 2021 “sustainability” has become a vital pillar firmly anchored throughout AAA’s vision, and strategy. Therefore, it was decided to publish Aruba Airport’s first Annual Corporate Social Responsibility Report in 2021 . This report zooms in on AAA’s exciting journey towards becoming a social-responsible company, with sustainability as our guiding principle and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) as part of how AAA conducts business. AAA has been identifying areas in which it can become a more sustainable company and contribute to a more sustainable Aruban community.

Key figures

Some key figures for the year 2021 compared to the past few years can be summarized as follows: