Princess Juliana International Airport

Princess Juliana
International Airport
Airport, Terminal JP5766234.jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerPrincess Juliana Int'l Airport Holding Company N.V.
LocationSint Maarten (Saint-Martin)
Hub forWinair
Elevation AMSL14 ft / 4 m
Coordinates18°02′27″N 063°06′34″W / 18.04083°N 63.10944°W / 18.04083; -63.10944Coordinates: 18°02′27″N 063°06′34″W / 18.04083°N 63.10944°W / 18.04083; -63.10944
SXM is located in Sint Maarten
Location in Sint Maarten
Direction Length Surface
m ft
10/28 2,300 7,546 Asphalt concrete

Princess Juliana International Airport (IATA: SXM, ICAO: TNCM) is the main airport on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. The airport is located on the Dutch side of the island, in the country of Sint Maarten, close to the shore of Simpson Bay Lagoon. In 2015, the airport handled 1,829,543 passengers and around 60,000 aircraft movements.[2] The airport serves as a hub for Winair and is the major gateway for the smaller Leeward Islands, including Anguilla, Saba, Saint Barthélemy and Sint Eustatius. It is named after Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, who landed there while she was heir presumptive in 1944, the year after the airport opened. The airport has very low-altitude flyover landing approaches because one end of its runway is extremely close to the shore and Maho Beach. While Princess Juliana International is the primary aviation gateway to the island, there is also a smaller public-use airport on the French side, in the French Collectivity of Saint Martin, called Grand Case-Espérance Airport.


The airport began as a US military airstrip in 1942 during World War II. The following year, first commercial flight landed on 3 December 1943. The future Queen Juliana visited the island using the airport in 1944. Eventually, the airport was named after her. In 1964 the airport was remodeled and relocated, with a new terminal building and control tower. The facilities were upgraded in 1985 and 2001.

Because of increased passenger traffic and the expected growth of passenger traffic in the near future, Princess Juliana International Airport is being heavily modernized following a three-phased masterplan, commissioned in 1997.[3]

Phase I was a short-term programme in order to upgrade existing facilities and improve the level of service at various points. This included widening, strengthening and renovating the runway, increasing the bearing capacity of the taxiways, construction of a new apron and an upgrade of the (old) terminal. Phase I was completed in 2001.[4]

Phase II included the construction of a radar facility and a new air traffic control tower, the construction of a new and more modern, 27,000 square metres (290,000 sq ft), terminal, capable of handling 2.5 million passengers per year, and the construction of a Runway End Safety Area (RESA) of 150 metres (490 ft), including a 60 metres (200 ft) overrun, on both ends of its runway, to comply with ICAO rules. The new air traffic control tower and the radar station commenced operations on 29 March 2004, while the new terminal opened in late October 2006.[5] The terminal has 4 jetways for large aircraft like 747s. If traffic develops as forecast, Phase III of the masterplan will be executed, consisting of an extension of the new terminal building and the construction of a full parallel taxiway system.[6]

In 1994, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and France signed the Franco-Dutch treaty on Saint Martin border controls, which allows for joint Franco-Dutch border controls on so-called "risk flights". After some delay, the treaty was ratified in November 2006 in the Netherlands, and subsequently entered into force on 1 August 2007.

Runway after Hurricane Irma

In July 2016, KLM announced that, starting in October, it would serve the airport with direct flights from Amsterdam instead of the triangle route via Curaçao. The previous triangle route used a Boeing 747. The new direct route would use an Airbus A330.[7] This change ended the airport's last regularly scheduled Boeing 747 service. The 747 made its last appearance at the airport on 28 October 2016. Maho Beach was almost completely covered with tourists and plane-spotters who came to witness the last landing and departure of the aircraft. In September 2017 it did make a brief return in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, operating some relief flights. At the same time KLM announced the return of the triangle route via Curaçao, this time however operated by an Airbus A330.[8] In September 2018, KLM officials confirmed that they hope to resume direct flights between Amsterdam and St. Maarten by November 2019.[9]

On 6 September 2017, the airport suffered significant damage when Hurricane Irma struck the island as a Category 5 hurricane. Video from a Dutch military helicopter showed the roof had been blown off the terminal, the jetways were damaged, and there was a significant amount of sand (blown through the fences from Simpson Bay Beach) and flooding on the runway.[10] The airport reopened on 10 October 2017 using temporary facilities while repair work commenced.[11] Pavilions were in use during reconstruction of the main terminal. It was hoped to move the airport's departure and arrival operations into the ground floor of the main terminal building by November. In December 2018, temporary arrival and departure facilities opened within the first level of the terminal building.[12] The entire upper floor of the terminal and the four jet-bridges remain temporarily out of commission.


Warning sign between runway 10 and Maho Beach
Spectators at Maho Beach
Terminal interior


The airport has a single runway numbered 10/28, measuring 7,546 ft x 148 ft (2,300 m x 45 m). It was renumbered from 09/27 in late 2008.[1]

Pilots guided by GPS take a more efficient approach than those operating under VFR.[13] Local airport rules prohibit aircraft from flying lower than 500 feet (150 m)[14]

Arriving aircraft approach the island on the last section of the final approach for Runway 10, following a 3° glide slope flying low over the famous Maho Beach. The proximity of Maho Beach to the runway has made the airport one of the world's favorite places among planespotters despite the dangers.[15] In 2017 a New Zealand woman died from injuries sustained by jet blast from a departing aircraft.[16] Tourists have been often criticised for dangerous behavior on the beach.[17]


The main apron measures 72,500 square metres (780,000 sq ft) with another 5,000 square metres (54,000 sq ft) on Eastern apron. For freight handling a dedicated apron of 7,000 square metres (75,000 sq ft) is available.[18]


Designed to handle some 2.5 million passengers annually, the new four-story terminal building offered (at least until the arrival of Hurricane Irma) 30,500 square metres (328,000 sq ft) of floor space and was fully air-conditioned. Available facilities included 46 check-in desks, 10 transit desks and 13 boarding gates. There were 20 immigration booths for arriving passengers and five exit-control booths for departing passengers.[19] The building also featured 40 shops and food & beverage units—some unique to St. Maarten—promoted under the retail theme 'So Much More'.

General aviation

To accommodate the growing international and local traffic of private aircraft, PJIA has a fixed-base operator building, offering office space and private lounges with dedicated customs.[18]


Since official opening of the new control tower, PJIA air traffic controllers have two radar systems at their disposal with ranges of 50 nautical miles (93 km) and 250 nautical miles (460 km). PJIA controllers manage 4,000 square NM of airspace known as the Juliana TCA around the airport, roughly between 25 nautical miles (46 km) and 42 nautical miles (78 km) of the St Maarten VOR-DME. Besides providing approach, tower and ground control at PJIA, these controllers also provide approach control for Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport (Anguilla), L'Espérance Airport (French Saint Martin), Gustaf III Airport (St. Barths), F.D. Roosevelt Airport (St. Eustatius) and Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (Saba).


PJIA is equipped with VOR/DME and NDB. The airport's official operating hours are 07:00–21:00.[18]

Airlines and destinations

The following airlines provide daily or weekly service to the following destinations.


Air Canada Seasonal: Toronto–Pearson
Air Caraïbes Seasonal: Pointe-à-Pitre
Air Century Santo Domingo–La Isabela
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Air Sunshine Anguilla, Dominica–Douglas-Charles, Nevis, St. Thomas, San Juan, Tortola, Virgin Gorda
Air Transat Seasonal: Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
American Airlines Charlotte, Miami, Philadelphia
Seasonal: Dallas/Fort Worth, New York–JFK
Arajet Santo Domingo–Las Américas
Caribbean Airlines Barbados, Kingston–Norman Manley, Port of Spain
Coastal Air Anguilla, Dominica–Canefield, Nevis, St. Croix, St. Eustatius
Condor Seasonal charter: Frankfurt
Copa Airlines Panama City–Tocumen
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, New York–JFK
Fly All Ways Seasonal charter: Paramaribo
Frontier Airlines Seasonal: Orlando
InterCaribbean Airways Tortola
Jetair Caribbean Curaçao
JetBlue Fort Lauderdale, New York–JFK
Seasonal: Boston
KLM Amsterdam
Silver Airways San Juan
Sky High Aviation Services Santo Domingo–Las Américas
Spirit Airlines Fort Lauderdale
St Barth Commuter St. Barthélemy
Sunwing Airlines Montreal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson
Trans Anguilla Airways Anguilla
United Airlines Newark
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare, Washington–Dulles
West Indies Helicopters St. Barthélemy, St. Martin
WestJet Toronto–Pearson
Winair Antigua, Aruba1, Bonaire2, Curaçao, Dominica–Canefield, Dominica–Douglas-Charles, Nevis, Pointe-à-Pitre, Port-au-Prince, Saba, St. Barthélemy, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, San Juan, Santo Domingo–Las Américas, Tortola
  • ^1 Winair operates between Aruba and Sint Maarten but the flight stops in Curaçao on selected days.
  • ^2 Winair operates between Bonaire and Sint Maarten but the flight stops in Curaçao on both trips.


Air Cargo CarriersSan Juan
AmeriflightSan Juan
Amerijet International Miami, Santiago de los Caballeros, Santo Domingo
DHL AviationAntigua
FedEx Feeder San Juan


An Air France Airbus A340-300 flying over Maho Beach shortly before touch-down
An Air Caraïbes Airbus A330-300 flying over Maho Beach shortly before touch-down

Accidents and incidents

  • On 21 December 1972, a De Havilland Canada Twin Otter operated by Air Guadeloupe on behalf of Air France crashed at night into the ocean near Sint Maarten, en route from Guadeloupe; all 11 passengers on board, along with both pilots, died.
  • On 30 October 2014, Skyway Enterprises Flight 7101, a Shorts SD-360 on behalf of FedEx, registration N380MQ performing flight SKZ-7101 from Sint Maarten (Dutch Caribbean) to San Juan (Puerto Rico) with 2 crew, was climbing out of Sint Maarten's runway 28 when the aircraft lost height and impacted waters about 2 nautical miles (3.7 km; 2.3 mi) off the coast (end of the runway) at about 18:35L (22:35Z). Both pilots died.

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ a b "AirNav: TNCM - Princess Juliana International Airport". Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  2. ^ Annual Report 2015, visited 2 March 2016
  3. ^ Retrieved 22 November 2021. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Retrieved 22 November 2021. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Retrieved 22 November 2021. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Retrieved 22 November 2021. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Kult-Airport St. Maarten verliert Boeing 747 (German)". 5 July 2016.
  8. ^ "KLM W17 St. Maarten service updates as of 28SEP17". Routes Online. 28 September 2017.
  9. ^ "All good news at State of the Industry St. Maarten event - Direct KLM flights to return". The Daily Herald. 21 September 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "World famous St Maarten airport destroyed by Hurricane Irma". Stuff. 6 September 2017. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  11. ^ "Rebuilding of SXM Airport Terminal Building Will Commence Soon". Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company. 5 October 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Back under roof". The Daily Herald. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 3 January 2019.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (2 February 2015). KLM Cockpit Tales: Part 3 - Big plane, short runway.
  14. ^ "AirNav: TNCM - Princess Juliana International Airport". Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  15. ^ Soo Kim (4 October 2017). "The Caribbean's most spectacular airport has reopened". Telegraph.
  16. ^ "New Zealand woman dies after jet blast at world's 'scariest' airport". Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  17. ^ Katherine Scott (10 July 2018). "Travellers slammed for 'close call' plane stunt at famous beach". Nine.
  18. ^ a b c (PDF) Retrieved 22 November 2021. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ "Princess Juliana International Airport". Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  20. ^ Most Extreme Airports; The History Channel; 26 August 2010

External links

  • Media related to Princess Juliana Airport at Wikimedia Commons
  • Princess Juliana International Airport (Official Website)
  • Aviation Pioneers of the Caribbean
  • Airport information for TNCM/SXM at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective October 2006).
  • Airport information for TNCM at AirportNavFinder
  • Airport webcam, flight timetables & pilot data links
  • Current weather for TNCM at NOAA/NWS
  • Accident history for SXM at Aviation Safety Network
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