Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM Airport), the second busiest airport in the Caribbean, is undergoing a major reconstruction project to rebuild the hurricane-hit terminal building and transform it into a modern airport.

The airport is located 15km away from Philipsburg, the capital of St. Maarten island in the Caribbean. The project will restore the airport’s passenger capacity to 2.5 million passengers, the levels witnessed before the hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the region and damaged the airport terminal.

In addition, the investment will enable the airport to improve security according to the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards.

The reconstruction project of SXM Airport was officially started in October 2018 and is expected to be completed in December 2022.

The project is expected to create 225 jobs during construction and approximately 1,200 permanent jobs upon commencement of operations of the new terminal.

Princess Juliana airport reconstruction project background

The Princess Juliana airport suffered significant damage due to Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in September 2017. The natural disasters, which occurred within a gap of ten days, destroyed the four-storey passenger terminal building and the air traffic control tower.

The mishap has rendered the terminal non-functional for more than two years as equipment and electronics on all levels of the terminal were damaged.SXM Airport resumed its flight operations in October 2017 by implementing temporary measures such as small open tents, which were later replaced with air-conditioned pavilions.

In December 2018, temporary passenger operations started in a part of the terminal building and in November 2019, the temporary operations area was increased to cover more than 60% of the ground floor.

Princess Juliana airport terminal reconstruction project

The reconstruction works at the terminal building will include check-in, arrival and reclaim halls, concession areas, security and departure areas, offices, vertical conveying systems, and restrooms.

In addition, the project will involve the reconstruction of new passenger boarding bridges, security screening and surveillance equipment, baggage handling, self-serve baggage drop system, automated border control systems, as well as equipment related to digital signage.

Other reconstruction projects at SXM Airport

The asphalt pavement will be renovated at aircraft parking areas B2 and B3. Construction work at the cargo building will include the installation of cladding onto the wall panels of the façade.

The location of Goddard Catering will be shifted to the La Terrasse building of Sonesta Maho Resort. It will have a loading dock and truck parking area.

Rescue and firefighting department building is also undergoing temporary repairs. The air traffic services facility will include the renovation of the fire suppression system, establishing a training room and upgrade of the current suppression system.

Construction works

Package one of the reconstruction project involves temporary operations including the construction of interim check-in counters, offices, immigration and emigration facilities, and the installation of security equipment and CCTV.

The second phase of roof repair works began in July 2018 following the completion of phase one of the roof works, including steel deck treatment, waterproofing, and flat metal sheets installation.

Installation of the roof profiles and panels was completed in phase two, while the third phase involved the installation of bullnoses and soffits.

The workshop for the second package of the terminal reconstruction project commenced in June 2019. The reconstruction works under package two are expected to commence in January 2021, with completion scheduled for December 2022.

Funding

The project is being financed by the Netherlands Government under the Sint Maarten Reconstruction, Recovery and Resilience Trust Fund (Sint Maarten Trust Fund), which is managed by the World Bank. An agreement was signed between the St. Maarten Government and the World Bank for a $72m grant agreement in December 2019.

The European Investment Bank (EIB), the Government of St Maarten, and the Princess Juliana International Airport inked an agreement for a loan of $50m to support the terminal reconstruction works.

The project is also supported by $7m in funding by Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company (PJIAE).

In April 2020, PJIAE received more than $70m in insurance claim settlement for the reconstruction project.

Contractors involved in SXM Airport reconstruction

Construction company Commodore performed the construction in package one, while Ballast Nedam was selected as the main contractor to perform roof repair works.