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Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) is the airport of St. Maarten. It is located 15 kilometers northwest of Philipsburg and is operated by Princess Juliana International Operating Company NV (PJIAE), a limited liability company, which is wholly owned by PJIA Holding N.V. which in turn is fully owned by the Island Government of the Island Territory of St. Maarten. Under a concession granted to PJIAE by Government for a period of twenty years - effective January 3, 1997- PJIAE manages, operates, maintains and develops the Princess Juliana International Airport.
The island of St. Maarten / St. Martin is the smallest landmass in the world shared by two nations. The northern side (St. Martin) is governed by the French and the southern side (St. Maarten) is one of the five island territories that make up the semi autonomous country of the Netherlands Antilles, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. While English is the main language on both sides, Dutch is the official language on the southern side and French the official language on the northern side.
Because of its geographical location, the island plays a strategic role in the development of neighboring islands Saba, St. Eustatius (also Netherlands Antilles territories), Anguilla and St. Barth´s.
As a matter of fact, the Princess Juliana International Airport serves more than the community of St. Maarten and its tourism industry. The airport is the hub that feeds St. Martin and surrounding islands as well.
PJIAE started as a small military base that was built in 1942, and was converted into a civilian airport in 1943, the first in this part of the Caribbean. It has played an important role in the socio-economic transition of St. Maarten, from an agriculturally based economy into one of the major tourist destinations in the Caribbean.
Today PJIA is the second busiest airport in the North Eastern Caribbean, in terms of aircraft movements, behind San Juan, Puerto Rico. PJIA is the single most important strategic asset of St. Maarten.