Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM Airport) is the primary airport of the island of St. Martin, an island situated among the Caribbean Islands. This airport is named after Queen Juliana of the Netherlands who officially opened this airfield as a civilian airport in 1944 prior to her assuming the role of Queen.
The Princess Juliana International Airport is located on the southern territory of the island known as the Dutch side of St. Maarten. The airport is a renowned hub in St. Maarten for airway lines from the lesser northern Antilles (Saba, Anguilla, St. Eustatius, and St. Barts) referred to as the “Leeward Islands”. Princess Juliana Airport also serves as a hub for the Guadeloupe and southern islands referred to as the “Windward Islands”.
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Princess Juliana International Airport is situated in Simpson Bay on the Dutch Side of the island of Sint Maarten. The airport is located about 15 km (9 miles) northwest of Philipsburg, which is the Dutch capital of Sint Maarten. The coordinates for Princess Juliana Airport are 18° 2′ 27″ N, 63° 6′ 34″ W.
The history of Princess Juliana International Airport is quite a fascinating story. The airport once existed exclusively as a military landing strip and how it has transitioned over the years to a commercial hub through a series of changes made by the Dutch government.
Princess Juliana International Airport was previously a US military airbase during World War II in 1942. However, the nature of the airport changed on December 3rd, 1943, when the first commercial flight made its landing on the runway. Princess Juliana International Airport was given its name in the year 1944, in honor of the heir-presumptive Queen Juliana of the Netherlands who landed at the airport on March 4, 1944 and declared it a civilian airport.
Princess Juliana International Airport has undergone transitional changes over the years. These changes began in 1964 when the airport was renovated and given a new control tower and terminal. That same year on March 20, 1964, Princess Juliana Airport was officially reopened by former Dutch Minister, Barend Biecheuvel on its current location in Simpson Bay.
Princess Juliana International Airport has since been developed under a three-phase development plan that was initiated in 1997. This three-phase development served to improve the quality of service at different points and to upgrade existing facilities to the high quality that makes it an efficient hub for many airways today.
Princess Juliana Airport was built in the 1940s and was initially a designated military airstrip for the US in 1942. The airport was then converted to a civilian airport the following year in 1943 and structural improvements thereafter were made by the Dutch government of the Netherlands.
Princess Juliana International Airport is considered dangerous for two reasons. Firstly, the runway space is so limited that pilots need to turn almost immediately to avoid the mountains in the straight path. Secondly, due the airport being only as little as 850 m (0.5 miles) from Maho beach, people standing too close to the airport boundary fence are at risk of injury from the jetblast of the airplane taking off. Sadly, in 2017, a jetblast from an aircraft on the runway caused the death of a tourist on Maho Beach.
Princess Juliana International Airport is located in extreme close proximity to Maho Beach. In addition, the runway is short and is situated very close to the water. The combination of these factors makes it disorienting for pilots during landing as their perception of altitude can be compromised. The result of an error in altitude perception when flying so low could be the aircraft crashing into the water or even worse onto the populated Maho Beach. The efficiency of the pilot comes down to experience, awareness and regular instrument checks.
The picture below shows an airplane flying very close over Maho Beach which is located near Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten.
Princess Juliana International Airport covers a surface area of 642,415 m2 (6,914,898 sq ft) with its terminal covering a surface area of 30,500 m2 (328,299 sq ft). Princess Juliana Airport has the capacity for approximately 170 aircraft movements per day. The features of Princess Juliana Airport are listed below.
The facilities at Princess Juliana International Airport are listed below.
Princess Juliana Airport has a single runway numbered 10/28, measuring 2300 m x 45 m (7500 ft x 148 ft). This runway is one of the world’s favorite locations for plane spotters due to its close proximity to Maho beach. As an aircraft arrives and approaches the runway on the last section of final approach, the plane follows a 3° glide slope flying low over Maho Beach. Pilots efficiently approach the runway by relying on a GPS.
The runway at Princess Juliana Airport is 2300m (7500 ft) long.
The terminal at Princess Juliana International Airport has two air-conditioned levels with the capacity of 2.5 million passengers annually. On the ground level, the airport accommodates arrivals whereas the first level is dedicated to departures.
The terminal at Princess Juliana International Airport has a new security system activated which allows passengers to scan their bar-coded boarding pass to enter the departure hall. In addition, a modern “Departure Lounge” has been installed allowing passengers a comfortable place to wait for boarding time.
Upon arrival at the terminal in Princess Juliana Airport, passengers can also enjoy a smooth immigration process with automated self-service control kiosks. Some of the other facilities available at the Princess Juliana Airport Terminal are listed below.
The apron or “ramp” at Princess Juliana International Airport is the area where aircraft are boarded, parked, loaded or unloaded, refueled or maintained.
The main apron at Princess Juliana Airport is measured at 72,500 m2 (780,000 sq ft) with another 5000 m2 (54,000 sq ft) on the eastern apron. In addition, there is an apron dedicated to freight handling which measures 7000 m2 (75,000 sq ft).
The general aviation at Princess Juliana International Airport has made some advancements over the years. The aviation executives have conducted operational flow meetings to strategize on how to meet the high demand for accommodation of the growing local and international traffic of private aircrafts.
The complexity and workload have continued to increase at Princess Juliana Airport, especially during peak seasons (December to January) with airport handlers receiving an influx of daily flight bookings. The aviation team has had to plan for the possibility of at least 100 private aircrafts parking long term.
Some of the initiatives taken at Princess Juliana Airport to satisfy this growing demand have included private lounges with dedicated customs, offering office space and a fixed-base operator building. Proactive planning is continually underway by a team who aim to maintain a high quality of service standards for passengers.
The latest control tower at Princess Juliana International Airport has two radar systems at the disposal of the air traffic controls. These radar systems range between 50 nautical miles (93 km) and 250 nautical miles (460 km).
Princess Juliana Airport controllers at the tower manage 4000 square nautical miles of airspace known as the Juliana TCA around the airport, estimated between 25 nautical miles (46 km) and 42 nautical miles (78 km) of the St. Maarten VOR-DME.
In addition to providing approach control at Princess Juliana Airport, the tower and ground controllers also provide approach control for French St. Martin (L'Espérance Airport), St. Eustatius (F.D. Roosevelt Airport), Anguilla (Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport), Saba (Yrausquin Airport) and St. Barths (Gustaf III Airport).
Princess Juliana International Airport is equipped with a distance measuring equipment (DME), very high frequency omni-directional range (VOR) and a non-directional radio beacon (NDB).
The VOR navigation system at Princess Juliana Airport allows the receiver to measure its bearings to and from the beacon, while the DME provides the slant distance between the receiver and the station. These two radio navigation systems work together to give measurements that allow the receiver to compute a position fix.
The NDB radio transmitter at Princess Juliana airport provides additional navigational aid with its ability to send signals that follow the curvature of the earth and these signals can be received at much greater distances at lower altitudes which gives it an advantage over VOR.
With these navigational technologies set up at Princess Juliana Airport, planes landing at lower altitude are well equipped for an efficient landing.
The different ways to reach Princess Juliana International Airport depend on the departure location. There are a few local transportation options available in Sint Maarten. Some of the transportation options to Princess Juliana Airport in St. Maarten are listed below.
If visitors are traveling from neighboring islands such as Anguilla or St. Barts, they can take a ferry to St. Maarten and then use the local transportation services to make their way to Princess Juliana International Airport. However, other international travelers will have to make use of airlines that fly directly into Princess Juliana International Airport from selected locations.
Princess Juliana International Airport receives carriers from Europe, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America and the USA. Some of the airlines that arrange flights to Princess Juliana International Airport are listed below.
You can follow the airport schedule for Princess Juliana International Airport on their official website www.sxmairport.com. The Princess Juliana Airport website provides flight status reports as well as seasonal flight programs for both arrivals and departures at the airport. This information is free to access under the “Flights Info” section of the website.
The statistics on the movement of passengers at Princess Juliana International Airport revealed a movement of approximately 1.7 million passengers in 2012 with that figure increasing to over 1.8 million passengers in 2016.
Princess Juliana International Airport reported that it anticipated a high peak season of approximately 500,000 passenger movements on more than 3400 flights, excluding the corporate private jets and commuter airlines. The prediction of these statistics was made in 2021 for the months starting from December 2021 through March 2022.
The hotels close to Princess Juliana International Airport are located from the airport neighborhood of the Simpson Bay area extending towards the capital, Philipsburg which is 15km (9 miles) from the airport. The best hotels near Princess Juliana Airport can be found at least a 2-minute drive (0.5km/0.3 miles) from the airport. Some of the hotels that are situated close to Princess Juliana International Airport and their proximity to the airport are listed below.
No, the hotel close to Princess Juliana International Airport is not budget friendly. El Zafiro Boutique Hotel which is the closest hotel to Princess Juliana Airport goes for an average nightly rate of $260 (€227). This hotel holds a 4-star rating and has some of the facilities and features listed below.
Guests who reviewed El Zafiro Boutique Hotel appreciated its location along the beach and the quick 10-minute drive to Princess Juliana International Airport using the hotel’s free shuttle service. The price of this hotel is due to the ideal location and available amenities.
The prices of other hotels in Sint Maarten can cost less than $100 (€87). Visitors can find some of the best budget-friendly hotels in St. Maarten located at a further distance away from Princess Juliana International Airport. Some of the facilities and features that can be found at these budget-friendly hotels are listed below.
The restaurants close to Princess Juliana International Airport offer some diverse local and international inspired cuisines. Some of the best restaurants in St. Maarten can be found in areas close to the airport. Below is a list of some restaurants located close to Princess Juliana International Airport.
Little Jerusalem is a Middle Eastern restaurant that has a 4.5 out of 5-star rating from online reviews. Guests can enjoy a fusion of healthy meals with a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern touch. The restaurant is a 4-minute drive from Princess Juliana International Airport along Airport Road.
Little Jerusalem restaurant opens at 11am and closes at midnight (13 hours), making it an ideal location for those waiting for their flights at Princess Juliana International Airport or visitors arriving at St. Maarten and looking for a place to eat in the afternoon or evening. Seating is available both indoors and outdoors with a touchless menu available via QR code scan. The meals at Little Jerusalem SXM range from $6 to $30 (€5 to €26).
El Zafiro restaurant is part of the 4-star hotel “El Zafiro Boutique Hotel”. This restaurant is open to the public. The meals served at this beachfront restaurant include French and Caribbean cuisine with Vegan and Vegetarian-friendly options. Children's menus are also offered for guests with children. El Zafiro is located about a 5-minute drive from Princess Juliana International Airport.
El Zafiro has an indoor bar and outdoor seating options which include lounge chairs on the beach. This restaurant opens from 8am to 10pm (14 hours). Guests arriving or departing at Princess Juliana International Airport can enjoy some refreshing cocktails or tropical drinks on the beach. The cost of dining at this hotel-based restaurant ranges from $8 to $50 (€7 to €44) and up to $15 (€13) for children aged 4-12years. Meals are free for children under 4 years of age.
Rusty Rocket Rum & Burger Saloon is a bar/pub with an online review rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. The online reviews reveal that this restaurant is the place to get the best burgers, chicken wings and a quick drink within less than 10 minutes of walking distance from Princess Juliana International Airport. Rusty Rocket Rum & Burger Saloon is situated on Airport Road across from Winair.
Rusty Rocket Rum & Burger Saloon is open 5 days a week, Thursday to Monday from 1pm until 1am (12 hours). Every night music and entertainment can be enjoyed in their lagoon side lounge with bistro lights, tall tables and a brand-new stage. This restaurant is an ideal location for late night passengers looking for a quick stop before or after their flight at Princess Juliana International Airport. Meals at Rusty Rocket Rum & Burger Saloon range between $7 to $20 (€6 to €17).
Zee Best Bakeshop is a bakery with a 4.5 out of 5-star online rating. Positive reviews were given for their freshly baked pastries and tasty meals. This bakery offers coffee, French pastries, salads, soups, sandwiches and celebration cakes.
Zee Best Bakeshop offers two locations, one for sit down dining and another for take-away only. The take-away Zee Best Bakery is located a 6-minute drive from Princess Juliana Airport along Airport Road close to Kim Sha beach. The dine-in Zee Best Restaurant is situated along Simpson Marina, an extra 1-minute drive from Zee Best Bakery.
Zee Best Bakeshop opens Monday to Saturday from 7am to 4pm (9 hours) and Sundays from 7am to 3pm (8 hours). Zee Best Restaurant opens every day from 7:30am to 2pm (6 hours 30 minutes). This is an ideal coffee and pastry location for early passengers arriving or departing from Princess Juliana International Airport between breakfast and lunch hours (7am to 2pm). The prices at both Zee Best Bakery and Zee Best Restaurant range between $7 to $20 (€6 to €17).
JAX Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar is a modern steakhouse and lounge with a 5 out of 5-star online rating. This reservation-only restaurant prides itself with quality Certified Angus Beef Prime, American style flavourful dishes and colorful cocktails made using some of Sint Maartens best liquors. JAX Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar is a 15-minute walking distance from Princess Juliana International Airport.
JAX Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar opens from 6pm to 10:30pm (4 hours 30 minutes). This lounge and bar is a great place to have a first or last taste of some of St. Maarten’s finest cuisines before or after a flight at Princess Juliana International Airport in the evening. The elegant indoor seating ambiance with warm lighting and an in-house DJ make this location an enjoyable nighttime destination for dining. The cost of a meal at JAX Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar ranges between $20 (€17) and $70(€61) per meal to $135 (€118) for a three-course meal.
Yes, Princess Juliana International Airport has restaurants. The airport has a food court area with different food outlets for passengers to choose from. The restaurants in St. Maarten can be found in areas close to Princess Juliana Airport.
Princess Juliana International Airport is owned by the government of the island territory of Dutch Sint Maarten. The airport is operated by the Princess Juliana International Airport Holding Company NV under a 20-year concession that was awarded in 1997.