Surinam Airways CEO flees Suriname for the Netherlands amid threats
The Dutch director of Surinam Airways, also known as the Surinaamse Luchtvaart Maatschappij, or SLM, left the airline’s home country for the Netherlands at the beginning of this week. In a statement he issued on Thursday, Paul de Haan said he left Suriname via the neighboring country French Guyana for his own safety and that of his family.
He alleged he was receiving threats from various groups. Rumors of his departure had been circulating for several days.
Due to the airline’s financial problems, it was rumored that aircraft leasing companies were unwilling to let SLM use their airplanes without payment up front. That led to a series of cancelled flights between Paramaribo and Amsterdam. Over the summer, customers of the airline filed complaints en masse when the airline refused to refund customers. Airline industry group ANVR wrote to the country’s president, Chan Santokhi, in July asking him to help resolve the issue.
In the statement, he explained that "there are forces that apparently have no interest in restructuring, and that ultimately forced me to step down as CEO." De Haan tendered his resignation to Santokhi on Sunday.
In his statement, he further said that the recovery plan for the airline was almost ready to be implemented. But when "a political smear campaign" arose, in which he came under fire and started facing threats, he left, De Haan claimed.
The Dutch man was recruited in March 2021 to help pull SLM out of financial problems. His main mission was to get the company back on track and clear the airline’s $75 million debt.
To get this job done, he was brought on to draw up and implement a recovery plan. The intention was that the company would be healthy again after three years.
Reporting by ANP