The ongoing economic and operational problems of the Surinamese airline SLM mean that no SLM flights will be operated between Paramaribo and Amsterdam in the coming days. And that means people whose flights have been canceled get high costs.
Only KLM currently flies between Schiphol and Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport, better known as Zanderij. And due to the disappearance of SLM flights, travelers now have to spend a lot of money on a KLM ticket, a search on the KLM page shows.
Until next Monday, only tickets for the more expensive business class are available. A single ticket from Amsterdam-Paramaribo will then cost 3779 euros. A week later, the plane, in economy class, still costs 1560 euros. A single ticket Paramaribo-Amsterdam for next Monday is relatively cheap: 884 euros. A week later, the plane costs 1027 euros.
KLM: simple supply and demand
“Tickets have been run over,” said a KLM spokesman. “It makes our prices go up, because our planes are already quite full. So simple supply and demand.” KLM will not deploy additional flights to Suriname in the short term. “We do not have the capacity for that, because we are at the top. We monitor market conditions and look at how we can best handle them.”
Loraine Oosterhuis-van de Leuv was visiting her father from Suriname when his return flight was canceled. They lost about 1500 euros on a replacement ticket:
‘Surinamese Aviation Company has really failed us’
It is still unclear if and when SLM will fly again between Suriname and the Netherlands. The company does not have its own aircraft and is struggling to rent aircraft from leasing companies due to financial problems. SLM has a debt of $ 75 million, director Paul de Haan told the Surinamese TV channel Apintie this week. In that interview, he also sketched a picture of how SLM got into trouble.
‘1 out of 3 tickets given away cheap’
According to De Haan, unnecessarily expensive leasing aircraft have been chosen in the past, and SLM staff have also sold or given away many tickets cheaply. According to De Haan, this is 33 percent of all tickets sold in recent years. “There were discounts or they were used completely free of charge. Sometimes they were friends and sometimes politicians, people who were not eligible for the IPB scheme,” the director said.
IPB means If seat is available. It is a scheme that many airlines have. Employees and their partners can then fly at a very low cost if there are still empty seats on a flight. But according to De Haan, that scheme was abused: “At SLM, it was not If Place Available, but APB: Always Place Available. And it has to go away,” he told Apintie. According to De Haan, there is a recovery plan that society wants to implement in the near future. SLM also wants to fly on schedule again from July 20, but he can not guarantee that it will succeed.
No money back in case of cancellation
According to the travel industry organization ANVR, SLM does not comply with European rules for canceled flights. “SLM offers vouchers and the option to rebook for a later flight. But what they also have to offer is to refund the money within seven days,” an ANVR spokesman said. This rule applies to all flights flying to or from EU territory.
“We are very concerned. SLMs are not actually available, they are not responding to requests for information,” the ANVR spokesman said. The organization has sent a letter to Surinamese President Santokhi to clarify.
If SLM goes bankrupt, according to ANVR, ticket buyers will probably lose their money. “At least if it was a single ticket. If it was a package tour that an SLM flight was part of, then it’s at the expense and risk of the travel organization.”