Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) is an ultramodern transport hub on the Caribbean island of St. Martin. Handling an average of 1.8 million people annually, with approximately 170 aircraft movements a day.
It is one of the busiest in the region, and is served by more than 30 airlines, with direct service to 35 destinations.
The airport is not only the gateway to a touristic paradise but also the engine of significant economic growth.
SXM is owned by a government holding company and operated by PJIAE NV, each with its own supervisory board of directors.
The airport community consists of more than 1,000 people working for 80 or so companies that include airlines and aviation service providers, in addition to retail outlets and restaurants.
Why the name Princess Juliana ?
The airport serves as a hub for Windward Islands Airways and is the major gateway for the smaller Leeward Islands, including Anguilla, Saba, St. Barthélemy and St. Eustatius.
It is named after Queen Juliana, who landed there while still only heir presumptive in 1944, the year after the airport opened.
The island’s central and strategic geographic location in the region has resulted in SXM becoming a primary hub connecting St Martin to the surrounding islands – particularly Anguilla, Saba, St Eustatius, St Barth, Tortola, St Kitts and Nevis – and to the rest of the world. The airport therefore plays a pivotal role in the economic development of the area. The increasing number of transfer passengers is evidence of its growing importance as a regional hub.
History of Princess Juliana International Airport
A master plan was started in 1997 that required that the airport be developed in three phases to accommodate new traffic and improve facilities. Consultants for financing (debt and bonds) and overseeing the instigation of the project involved Standard International Group, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Berger Group – investment for the entire project will total $117m.
- The first phase began in 1997 and involved a general refurbishment of the existing terminal and remedial work at the airport and this lasted until 2001.
- In 2004 phase II of the master plan came into action with 98,000m² of land being reclaimed in the Simpson Bay Lagoon.
- The additional land was required for the construction of the new terminal building, a new air traffic control tower and radar facility (which came into operation in March 2004 and is under the control of the Department of Civil Aviation of the Netherlands Antilles (DCANA)
- There are 90,000 aircraft movements a year to monitor, a new parking structure and the construction of runway extension safety areas of 150m at each end and also new access roads.
Perks about Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM)
The airport is widely recognised as a hub in the area for St Martin and neighbouring islands (Leeward Islands, including Anguilla, Saba, St Barthélemy and St Eustatius)
It is the second busiest in the region after Luis Munoz airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
There is a single runway at the airport 09/27, which is famous for being short (2,180m, 7,152ft) and is only just long enough for heavy jets to land. The largest planes approaching the island fly extremely low and pass only 10m to 20m (30ft to 60ft) over the main beach (Maho).
The airport is operated by Princess Juliana International Operating Company NV under a 20-year concession awarded in 1997. The operator is owned by PJIA Holding NV, which is itself owned by the Island Government of the Island Territory of St Maarten.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that international demand for travel to the Caribbean will grow at an annual rate of 4.3% over the next ten years.
- 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.
- Pilots guided by GPS take a more efficient approach than those operating under VFR.
- Local airport rules prohibit aircraft from flying lower than 500 feet (150 m)
- 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.
- 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.
- It is roughly between 25 nautical miles (46 km) and 42 nautical miles (78 km) of the St Maarten VOR-DME.
- 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.
- The building also featured 40 shops and food & beverage units some unique to St. Maarten—promoted under the retail theme ‘So Much More’.
- PJIA is equipped with VOR/DME and NDB. The airport’s official operating hours are 07:00–21:00.
- 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.
You must Know!
- Princess Juliana International Airport is the airport featured in the free demo version of Microsoft Flight Simulator X.
- In the full version of the program, it is the destination on the mission called “Caribbean Landing” where you land a Bombardier CRJ-700 on runway 10.
- The History Channel program Most Extreme Airports ranks Princess Juliana Airport as the 4th-most dangerous airport in the world.
Places You Must Visit near Princess Juliana International Airport
The airport serves as a hub for Windward Islands Airways and is the major gateway for the smaller Leeward Islands, including Anguilla, Saba, St. Barthélemy and St. Eustatius. It is named after Queen Juliana, who landed there while still only 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. There is also an airport on the French side of the island, in the French Collectivity of Saint Martin, called Aéroport de Grand Case or L’Espérance Airport.
BEACHES / SIGHTSEEING
Saint Martin features more than 37 different bays, each with its own character. Beyond any doubt, the most striking one is Maho Beach.
This beach is popular with plane spotters, as it is so close to the flight path of Princess Juliana International Airport that the slipstream of incoming aircraft frequently whips up the beach towels.
Those who prefer a quiet beach refuge can visit the more remote bays. And in between these 2 extremes, St Martin also offers many trendy beaches with beach clubs and fun restaurants.
- 1. Maho Beach
- Maho Beach is a beach on the Dutch side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, in the territory of St Matin.
- It is famous for being adjacent to the Princess Juliana International Airport.
- And is a popular site for tourists and planewatchers, who visit the beach to watch aircraft on final approach landing at the airport.
- 2. Orient Bay Beach
- Orient Bay Beach is one of the longest and liveliest beaches on St Martin. The bay lies on the north-east coast, on the French part of the island.
- The many beach bars and lounge beds evoke images of the Côte d’Azur, but the restaurants under the palm trees serve up authentic local flavours; sip a tropical cocktail or order some ‘acras’ (Creole fish dumplings).
- The bay with its long white sandy beach and deep blue water looks out over 3 small islands: Pinel, Green Cay and Tintamarre.
- 3. Cupecoy Beach
- To end the day on a romantic note, follow the locals to Cupecoy Bay Beach: at sunset, the red-brown rocks bask in a beautiful golden glow.
- There are no bars on the beaches of Cupecoy Bay, but vendors often come by selling cold beer.
BARS AND CLUBS
- 1. Pink Lguana
- A floating tug boat converted to a bar by owner Carl.
- Adjacent to the SXM Airport.
- He’s an interesting fellow, and been around the world.
- 2. Sunset Bar and Grills
- The Sunset Bar and Grill is a small bar located on Maho Beach in Sint Maarten, formerly known as the Sunset Beach Bar.
- It is best known for its proximity to Princess Juliana International Airport, making it a popular hangout for plane spotters.
- 3. The Hole in the Wall
- The hole in the wall is another bar near the fantabulous Maho Beach.
…And even more
NATURE AND WILDLIFE / OFF ROAD FUN
- 1. Speed down the world’s steepest zip line
- St. Martin zip line is the world’s steepest’
- It is dropping more than one thousand feet in elevation along 2,800 feet of cable and serving up spectacular views of the island the entire way down.
- Off road fun activities by:
- ST. Martin Safari.
- Quads and Furious.
- Sparkle Adventures.
- Splash in the Sun.
- ATV Island
- 2. Water Sports
- Snorkeling, Boat Tours, Water Skiing and Jet Skiing and a lot more to enjoy.
- This Leeward Island has over 44 miles of coastline.
- Thus the perfect destination for snorkelling, diving, (kite) surfing, kayaking or simply lounging at a beach bar.
- Billy Bones Boatcharters.
- Jet Paradise.
- La Playa.
- SXM Kiteschool.
- Wind Adventures.
- Bubble Shop
If time is really tight, though, and you don’t have the leisure to look through all our offerings, we present our Best Shopping list for St Martin/Sint Maarten.
These places promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that you just can’t miss.
- 1. ShipWreck Shop
- Were a ship to wreck, this treasure trove of gifts is just what you could expect to salvage.
- Goods are characteristically Caribbean and include guavaberry liqueur, local spices and seasonings, and crafts of all sorts.
- Other great discoveries include artwork, clothing, jewelry, books, an array of delightful domestic goods, and reminders of your time in the Caribbean.
- An ideal, duty-free stop for souvenir-seekers.
- 2. St Martin Guavaberry
- For authentic island flavor, look no further than this shop, which sells St. Maarten’s national liqueur.
- Crafted of cane sugar, oak-aged rum, and the elusive guavaberries that grow in the island’s central hills, this signature spirit boasts an addictive flavor that visitors come to love.
- Previously made only in individual homes, the liqueur is now produced in larger quantities for the growing market.
- Several formulations are available here, along with hot sauces, clothing and colognes.
- 3. Front Street
- Philipsburg’s main thoroughfare is known for its abundance of jewelry shops scattered along the cobblestone street.
- You can find emeralds, diamonds, gold, platinum and more at over 20 stores. Pieces from internationally known designers such as Cartier, Gucci, Chopard and Versace, along with custom items, are readily available.
- Front Street also has a good selection of shops offering china and crystal. While some larger stores accept credit cards, smaller vendors may require cash.
- Other items include t-shirts, duty-free cigars, liquor, perfumes, and more.
- A beautiful beach boardwalk stretches along the street with beach chairs available to rent and plenty of places for a cold drink.
Visit and Stay near SXM
So have you planned to visit the world class Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM)?? Let us guide you with some posh hotels around the airport with the scenic beauty of beach to enjoy your vacations.
- Royal Palm Beach Resort By Diamond Resorts
- 4 stars Hotel in Simpson Bay
- Click here to book
- Flamingo Beach Resort By Diamond Resorts
- 4 stars Hotel in Simpson Bay
- Click here to book
- Sonesta Maho Beach All Inclusive Resort Casino & Spa
- 4 stars Hotel in Maho Reef
- Click here for bookings and more..
- Atrium Beach Resort and Spa St Maarten a Ramada by Wyndham
- 4 stars Hotel in Simpson Bay
- Click here for more
- Simpson Bay Resort Marina & Spa
- 5 stars Hotel in Simpson Bay
- Click here for more details.
- Commodore Suites
- 4 stars Hotel in Simpson Bay
- click here to know more
Cabs to reach St. Martin SXM Airport
- Big Cadi Taxi Services and Tours click
- Silver Line Taxi Service click
- Bernards Tours click
- Jay’s Driving Escort Services click
- Kenny’s Car Rental click
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Wishing you a beautiful day ahead