The Surinamese government has announced plans to privatize loss-making national carrier, Surinam Airways (PY, Paramaribo Int'l), within the next two to three years. Local media reports indicate that although the country's parliament has already debated the issue, no firm plan has yet been set out.

The announcement comes on the back of President Desi Bouterse's firing of airline CEO Ewald Henshuys along with his entire board, for gross negligence late last year.

According to Star Nieuws, Bouterse lambasted the leadership for allegedly committing 'many blunders' which included, inter alia, the recent replacement of a 21.8 year-old A340-300 with another slightly younger aircraft of the same type. Since then, a new team headed by Louis Voigt has been appointed to oversee the airline's running.

Surinam Airways currently operates a single A340-300 and three B737-300s on flights to Aruba, Belém, Cayenne, Curacao, Georgetown Cheddi Jagan, and Port of Spain, regionally as well as to Amsterdam Schiphol, Miami Int'l, and Orlando Sanford.

As a state-backed airline, Surinam Airways has enjoyed government protection and funding which critics blame for inculcating a culture of non-performance and uncompetitiveness among its staff and management.

However, as part of his re-election manifesto, Bouterse pledged to overhaul the country's ailing state-enterprises which have now become a serious drain on the South American country's coffers. Heavily reliant on mineral exports for its revenue, Surinam's economy has struggled amid low bauxite and gold prices.