Princess Juliana International Airport is one of the most famous planespotting sites in the world.
Princess Juliana International Airport is the main international airport serving the country of Sint Maarten, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Caribbean. The country is located on the island of Saint Martin, which is home to the Dutch-speaking country of Sint Maarten and the French-speaking, French overseas collectivity of Saint Martin.
Origins of the airport
Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) began as an American airstrip in 1942, during the Second World War. In 1944, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands visited the island, and therefore the airport was named after her. In 1964, the airport was upgraded and was rebuilt with a brand-new terminal building and control tower. In 1997, due to an increase in passenger numbers and in expected passenger numbers, Princess Juliana International Airport launched a three-phase master plan in hopes of increasing the airport’s capacity, and therefore improving the prospects of the country’s tourism sector.
Phase 1 of the master-plan called for an upgrade of the existing facility of the airport. This included the widening of the runway, taxiways and the apron, as well as renovating the current terminal. This phase was commissioned in 1997 and ended in 2001. Phase 2 consisted of a more long-term solution to increasing capacity. The airport’s executives decided to construct a new radar facility and a new control tower, in addition to a modern, 290,000 square foot terminal building, which has the capacity to handle over 2.5 million annual passengers. The runway was also extended on both ends to comply with ICAO rules. Phase 2 concluded with the opening of the new terminal in late October 2006. Phase 3 of the master-plan has since been approved, and it mainly consists of an extension to the modern terminal building and the construction of a parallel taxiway system which should increase the capacity of the airport
The airport has been one of the most popular plane-spotting sites in the world due to its low-altitude landing and short runway. In addition, SXM also has flights from across North America, the Caribbean and Europe. It is therefore not uncommon to see widebodies from airlines such as Air France, KLM and Condor. Several airlines based in the United States, such as Delta, American, JetBlue, Spirit and United, all fly to Sint Maarten. You can also see smaller Caribbean airlines at SXM, including Air Sunshine, Coastal Air and Winair, the government-owned, flag carrier of Sint Maarten. Winair flies to many destinations across the Caribbean, including to Antigua (ANU), Nevis (NEV), San Juan (SJU) and Port-au-Prince (PAP).
Source: Simple Flying