People about Airport Twente

Elly Stoelinga of Enschede Airport Twente b.v.

Elly Stoelinga has – together with Thijs Bennink and Ton ten Vergert – probably been involved in the airport the longest of all ‘players’. She spent 14 years at Twente Airport and, after the privatisation in 2003, automatically moved over to Enschede Airport Twente b.v. (EAT). Her business card says ‘Office Manager’ - a somewhat misleading term as she has actually been providing support to EAT’s supervisory and management boards since 2003. Elly is the constant factor in the entirety and a pivotal figure as well. A tower of strength who has seen a handful of boards come and go through the years. Former mayor Jan Mans had assured her years ago that she will stay with the EAT until retirement - a prediction she hopes will come true.

The past years have been turbulent ones for her (and her supervisory and management boards). First, there was the announcement - soon after the privatisation - by Minister Kamp that the Twente air base will be closed. Then came the actual termination of the military activities; the continuation with holiday and business flights; the wish to continue by means of a temporary permit - a proposal that was torpedoed by Minister Bos. Nowadays Elly holds the fort, with one other colleague who takes care of the maintenance of the costly machines and equipment. She runs the offices, provides support to the management and supervisory boards and has started building an historical archive.

Despite this isolated position, she is ready to fight for ‘her’ EAT. “After all the procedures have been completed, the tendering stage will begin. With that in mind, we have already started focusing on a temporary reopening and will now have to pull out all the stops to ensure that Twente Airport remains in local hands, if there proves to be a need for this.” By ‘local hands’ she means of course the current mix of shareholders (OAD, Reggeborg Investment and Strikwerda Investments). They have been fighting on the barricades for the airport since 2003 with many others and I hope they will be willing and able to persevere. “If they succeed, I will certainly still be working at the airport by the time I reach retirement. Most likely by that time in a new building in another part of the site.”

She is no longer concerned about the failures in the interim. “Both the questionnaire and the TC/Tubantia debate have proven once again that 70% of Twente’s population are in favour of a compact airport. And an airport is more than just a runway; it is most certainly also an economic driving force for a region, an subsequently a flywheel.”

Source: VIT Newsletter July 2009

Text: Niko Wind

Vliegwiel Twente Maatschappij