Categorized | National News

Family Island Airports To Receive Upgrades

The Christie administration is committed to expanding and modernising airports throughout the country in an effort to boost tourism numbers and revive the economy for several of the islands, according to the prime minister.

Prime Minister Perry Christie said although the airport expansion project is well underway in New Providence with Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA), the Family Islands cannot be left out.

“Even though Freeport is under private management and ownership, our government is really committed to ensuring that airport services stay at the level that is necessary for the product in Grand Bahama to succeed,” he said after touring phase two of the LPIA expansion project with cabinet ministers on Friday.

“We had also started the process in Abaco of a new runway and a parallel taxiway as well as moving towards a new terminal building in Marsh Harbour. We want Abaco to be the third major destination in the country. We are also looking in islands where there are hotel products such as Exuma and islands where international flights are coming in.”

Mr. Christie said there is a need to modernise all the airports as well as inter-island communications.

Meanwhile, the prime minister also spoke about the progress being made on phase two of the LPIA expansion project.

“During my last term in government, we saw a need to expand the airport due to the many projects coming on stream at the time – Albany, South Ocean, Phase three of Kerzner International, Bahamar and the Ritz Carlton on Rose Island,” Mr. Christie said.

“As a result of what was going on, we knew that we had to put the infrastructure in place to meet the needs that would have arisen.”

Mr. Christie also gave some background information on the contract negotiations for the management of the new airport by the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD).” He explained that the Vantage Airport Group (formerly Vancouver Airport Services – YVRAS) was chosen to oversee the operations of the airport due to their experience in pre-clearance facilities and their ability to integrate culture into the whole ‘airport’ concept.

Minister of Tourism, Obie Wilchcombe said the airport is a vital component in the country’s overall mission of beefing up the tourism product.

“In order to take the country to the next level and to effectively compete and to take back our place in the tourism industry, we must take our product to a level of excellence,” he said. “This airport makes that possible.”

President and CEO of the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD), Stewart Steeves gave an overview of the project.

He said t the total project work is 75 per cent complete by value.

“The current stage II work is 100 percent contracted with an expected opening in October 2012,” he said.

Prime Minister Christie explained that Vantage Airport Group was chosen to oversee the operations of the airport due to their experience in pre-clearance facilities and their ability to integrate culture into the whole ‘airport’ concept.

Phase I of the project was completed last year resulting in a new 247,000- square foot terminal. It is anticipated that the current Phase II portion will be completed in the fall of this year, with the entire project scheduled for completion in November 2013.

The new airport, which is budgeted to cost $409 million, will include a $10 million state-of-the-art baggage system, eco-friendly building design features and artwork on display by local Bahamian artists, including Nicole Sweeting, John Beadle, John Cox and Susan Katz- Lightbourn.

The new facility is expected to create 150 to 200 jobs.

There are approximately 450 workers on site for this second phase, of which Bahamian labour represents 70 percent.

In addition, work for phase II has been awarded to 30 per cent Bahamian firms – roughly equal in participation to United States and Canadian firms.

Phase III will entail the construction of a new domestic/international departures and new domestic arrivals terminal at 112,000 square feet. It is projected to cost $84,000 to construct.

The entire project is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2013.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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