Many complaints and concerns over canceled Surinam Airways flights
Complaints have been pouring in from people who had booked a flight with the Surinamese airline Surinam Airways, also known as SLM. It canceled a series of flights between Paramaribo and Amsterdam, but refuses to give customers their money back. In the meantime, there is also uncertainty about whether the flights from July 20 will continue as planned. Airline industry association ANVR wrote a letter to Suriname's president, Chan Santokhi, about the issue.
Many victims have reported to EUclaim and other companies requesting help in reclaiming reclaims money for the travelers. "People want money back for their booking or money for a replacement flight," said Paul Vaneker of EUclaim. "SLM also has to pay that within a week, but that is not going to happen," he said.
The problem he said, is that SLM is in financial trouble and the company has not had ownership over its own aircraft for some time. "I understand that parties that rent out aircraft require payment in advance from SLM."
ANVR is also very concerned in the meantime. "SLM is canceling flights during the lucrative summer period, does not refund money and there is no one available to clarify the flights from next week. Travel agencies are inundated with questions," said a spokesperson.
Because no one was available at SLM, the branch organization turned to Santokhi, said the spokesperson. "The president has expressed his commitment to a healthy future for SLM, so we hope he will mediate."
In the meantime, eight flights have already been canceled and hundreds of people have lost out on their travel plans. They do not have many other options for flying to Suriname, because KLM is the only other carrier that has a direct flight to the country.
Platform Surinamese Diaspora (PSD) also called on SLM to do a better job of dealing with its customers. "PSD believes that it is the task and responsibility of SLM to transport the stranded passengers to their destination as soon as possible." According to the organization, which represents the interest of the Surinamese Dutch community, this can also be done by rebooking SLM passengers on KLM flights.
Due to the increased demand for tickets, and the fact that not many are available anymore, KLM tickets to Suriname have also become considerably more expensive. PSD is not happy about that either. The organization calls on the Surinamese authorities to also enter into discussions with KLM.
Reporting by ANP