Last updated: 2003-01-22


News about developments concerning Caribbean airports.

Tobago airport gets approval for upgrade - updated 2002-12-08
Port of Spain Airport, Trinidad: delayed, controversial, over-budget - updated 2001-06-01
The Dominican Republic: biggest airport developments in the Caribbean - Updated 05FEB02
Antigua: struggle to pay for construction of US$100m expansion of V C Bird International Airport - updated 2001-12-01
Jamaica: Montego Bay airport privatised - updated 2003-01-21
Barbados: expansion and modernisation of Grantley Adams International Airport costing US$80m
Beef Island Airport, The BVI: new terminal and cargo buildings and runway extension costing US$55m - updated 2001-04-13
Virgin Gorda Airport, The BVI: to be nationalised
St Maarten: phase I of US$15m Airport Master Plan for Princess Juliana International Airport under way - updated 2001-05-09
Guyana: plans to bring aviation up to international standards costing US$31.5m
St Croix: Terminal expansion, runway extension, ATC tower, apron & taxiway resurface
St Thomas: Security system upgrade, oil water separator system
Grenada: over US$14m being spent on Point Salines International Airport on runway repairs, terminal expansion, apron widening
Aruba: big expansion of Reina Beatrix International Airport, including two new terminals, costing US$70m
Puerto Rico: San Juan's Luis Marin Muñoz International Airport being expanded at a cost of US$154m
Montserrat: new airport to be built at Gerald's - updated 2002-11-12
Dominica: huge planned international airport scrapped
St Vincent: E T Joshua Airport's runway entension on hold
Grand Cayman: government thinking about upgrade
Cayman Brac: airstrip resurface to start
Little Cayman: Edward Bodden Airport's grass strip may be upgraded to a runway
St Martin: Esperance Airport closed for upgrading - updated 2002-01-22
Cuba: Cayo Coco airport opens - updated 2003-01-22
Nevis: construction underway on new US$5 terminal of Newcastle Airport
Saba: new terminal planned
Curaçao: radar construction about to start - updated 2001-04-28

Tobago Airport - Crown Point International (TAB)

08DEC02 Cabinet has approved funding for the project and initial work should begin before the end of this month. The major focus is to increase the Arrival Hall to accommodate some 700 passengers from the current 200. The same will apply to the Departure Hall. The project will include relocation of Domestic Arrivals and the building itself will be extended westwards to the site currently occupied by Auto Rentals and northwards into the existing car park. Loading bridges will also be installed for use with wide-bodies international flights so domestic and foreign passengers do not intermingle on the tarmac as now happens. The upgrade will also include a First Class Lounge. The road leading into the airport will be diverted as one of the measures to beef up security.

17NOV02 Virgin Atlantic Airways has given the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) a six-month deadline to upgrade the Crown Point International Airport or lose millions of dollars in business. THA Chief Secretary Orville London is optimistic that Tobago could meet the 12 May, 2003 deadline, when the airline is due to launch its Tobago service, saying there were plans to expand Crown Point at a cost of between TT$75 million (US$12.2 million) and TT$90 million (US$14.6 million). London hopes that Cabinet will release the funds this month for the airport expansion project. The design plan has already been prepared by LeeYoung and Associates.

Port of Spain Airport, Trinidad

The Piarco 2000 project for the construction of a new terminal at Piarco International (POS) has been blighted since 1992 by allegations of corruption and other problems. Businessman Ishwar Galbaransingh, whose construction company Northern Construction led the Northern Yorke Coosal consortium which received the main airport contract, has been accused of collusion with Birk Hillman, the project's Florida consultant. In addition, the government denied that it had instructed National Insurance Property Development Company (NIPDEC), which it had placed in charge of the project, to award the main contract to Galbaransingh's consortium.

After a start in 1996, completion was planned for 5th July 2000, with a public opening on Independence Day on 31st August 2000, in time for the peak winter season, but this always seemed unlikely despite planned working around the clock during 2000. Difficulties include rain, which causes two days' delay for every day of steady rain, and the late approval of airlines' request to construct a tug tunnel (an underground passageway to move baggage from the aircraft to the terminal building) which had not been provided for in the original plans. Eventually the new airport was opened on 25MAY01, more than two years later than originally planned.

The cost of the project is subject to some confusion, but was estimated in 1995 to be US$105m plus US$16.5m for Birk Hillman's consultancy fee. Then, in February 2000, the government announced an extra US$2.2m to speed up the project, though an additional US$2.4m is reckoned to be gained from concessionaires and tenants. The final cost is estimated by the airport project management to be TT$1,003m (US$160.8m), being TT$767m (US$123.3m) terminal construction, TT$183m (US$29.3m) terminal equipment, TT$121m (US$19.4m) consultancy fees for Birk Hillam and TT$30m (US$4.8m) for NIPDEC. Then in April 2001 the news broke that no provision had been made for building a new fire station. This will cost at least TT$20 (US$3.2m). The station will be located east of the old terminal building. Finally, by the time of the May 2001 opening of the airport, the cost appeared to have risen to TT$1,400m (US$226.5m).

The terminal will have approximately 45,000 square metres of usable space. There will be 84 check-in counters, accessed through automatic doors from a five-lane vehicle reception, at which there will be X-ray machines - making POS one of the few airports in the region where both baggage and hand luggage will be X-rayed. Departing passengers will have a choice of 24 immigration points, 12 customs positions and two exclusively for agricultural imports, equipped with X-rays. There will also be a restaurant in the terminal.

There will be 14 loading bridges which will allow passengers to exit or enter planes through air conditioned tunnels. These bridges are also conduits for water, power and airconditioning removing the need for service trucks. Departing passengers will have a choice of 24 immigration positions, 12 customs positions and two exclusive for agricultural imports, equipped with X-rays.

The country really needs this new terminal as traffic, driven by hotel development in Trinidad & Tobago (3,900 rooms in December 1999 and plans for 4,100 more), looks set to rise sharply. Based on the 1995 passenger flow of 1,177,995, it is expected to reach 2.3m by 2004 - including 1,500 at a peak hour - and just over 3m by 2010. To meet a target of clearing all peak-hour arriving and departing passengers within an hour, 14 international gates equipped with jetways and two commuter parking positions will be required. The location of the terminal, on the northern side of the runway, both minimises the need for new pavement works and allows flexibility for long-term expansion.

International departing passengers will check in at ground level and proceed to the atrium in the centre of the building, where there will be shops selling duty-free goods and foods such as pepper plums, red mango and tamarind balls. They will then go upstairs to the departure lounges. Arriving international passengers will enter the upper-level concourse via the jetway loading bridges from the aircraft, move downstairs to passport control and onto the baggage claims hall via duty-free malls.

Also under construction will be a ramp control tower, the extension of the parallel runway, canopies for key passenger areas, alteration of the existing plan to provide more space for users in the upper floor of the terminal building (this should yield an additional US$0.74m per annum in revenues for the airport), car parks, car rental facilities, airline offices, restaurants and hotels.

The Dominican Republic

Ogden Contract

Ogden Corporation was awarded in July 1999 a 20-year concession contract to design, finance and construct US$400m in improvements, and to operate four international airports in the Dominican Republic. The main contractor is Aeropuertos Dominicanos Siglo XXI (AERODOM), a consortium which is 35%-owned by Ogden, whose partners in are Dominican Republic-based Operadora de Aeropuertos Del Caribe, S.A. (OPASA), YVR (Vancouver) Airport Services, and Impregilo, S.p.A., the construction company based in Milan, Italy.

Under the terms of the concession agreement, AERODOM will collect and retain aeronautical revenues such as aircraft landing and parking fees, airport terminal revenues including passenger facility charges and fees from airport services providers, and all commercial revenues, rents, and fees at Santo Domingo's Las Americas International Airport (SDQ), Puerto Plata's Gregorio Luperón Airport (POP), Barahona's Maria Montez Airport (BRX), and Samana's new international airport at Arroyo Barril (ZAB). It is expected that AERODOM's revenues will be US$2bn.

Over US$200 million will be invested in various improvements to the airports during the first phase of the project, which will be undertaken within the first three years of the concession. The investments will be financed by a combination of AERODOM shareholder cash equity, retained earnings, and the proceeds of a planned project recourse financing. Financing is being arranged by AERODOM's financial advisor, Santander Investment Securities, Inc. and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Santo Domingo

The government announced plans in 1999 to close Herrera Airport (HEX), the smaller of Santo Domingo's two airports located in the inner city, and replace it with La Isabela International in Higuero on the outskirts of the city at a claimed cost of RD$800m (US$51m), though some opposing Senators reckon the cost will be four times higher.

The move is strongly opposed by domestic and small charter airlines based at HEX who fear loss of business as some people would take surface transport rather than travel to a more distant airport.

However, in September 2000, the government announced the postponement of the project until a private partner could be found to complete it. RD$600m has already been spent and the government estimates a further RD$500m is needed to complete the airport.

The government would finish the reconstruction of the Avenida Jacobo Majluta, for which RD$220 million is needed. The completion of the leading accessway is essential for the operation of Isabela Airport, and the government would also build several traffic distributors leading to the airport.

The Isabela Airport will have a 1,650 metres by 45 metres wide runway that can be expanded to 3,000 metres in a second phase.

La Romana (LRM)

LRM is to move from Casa de Campo to Batey Cacata, in the centre of the La Romana province, by December 2000. The new more northerly location will provide closer access to the resorts located in Bayahibe, Dominicus, where major tourism developments are taking place.

This new US$55m, category 8 international airport will have a runway of 3,950 metres by 45 metres wide and will have capacity to simultaneously handle two incoming and two outgoing flights. The terminal, built in the form of a sugar mill, will have an area of 7,500 square meters. The airport is expected to be used by tourists flying in to Casa de Campo, Dominicus-Bayahibe and Punta Cana resort areas, as well as residents in the cities of San Pedro de Macorís, La Romana and Higuey.

New Santiago Airport

Updated 05FEB02 Construction started in January 2000 on a US$30m, 2-year project to build Cibao International, a 2,450 metre runway airport in Licey al Medio in Santiago province. The airport is equi-distant between Santiago and Moca, and will also serve La Vega and San Francisco de Macoris. It is expected that the airport will handle over 100,000 passengers in its first year of operation.

Santiago is curently served by the airport at La Vega (STI) located in the center of the city.

Flights are due to commence on 15MAR02. Victor Suarez, director of the new Cibao Airport, said that the road that links the new airport with the Duarte Highway will be ready in April.

Punta Cana Airport (PUJ)

Traffic increased 43.3% in the first three months of 2000 through the airport according to Hoy newspaper. Airport statistics show 268,710 arrivals, 83,832 more than last year for the same period. In January there were 89,966 arrivals; February 90,614 arrivals; March 60,718 arrivals. Of the total arrivals, 23.52% were Germans, 18.18% Canadians and 16.60% were Americans. The Bavaro-Punta Cana area has more than 30 hotels and around 15,000 hotel rooms.

Antigua V C Bird International Airport (ANU)

01DEC01 The government last month announced the privatisation of the airport to the Stanford Group of Companies headed by R Allen Stanford, owner of Antigua-based Caribbean Star Airlines. It is hoped that Stanford will invest in the airport which has been criticised for its toilets and the facilities in the departure and transit lounge.

In a move to counter criticisms of the airport, the government obtained a loan of EC$500,000 (US$185,200) in May 2001 to refurbish and renovate the toilets. At the same time, plans were announced for the building of a 60-seat first-class lounge.

The Antigua government and German consulting firm DIWI Consult International GmbH came up in 1998 with a US$100 million, 25-year plan for major improvement and expansion of the V C Bird International (ANU) airport. The plan includes:

Some of the funding comes from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, and enabled work to start on the airport roads in 1998.

Work on the parallel taxiway and parking apron started in February 1999 for planned completion in October 2000 but suffered stoppages in November 1999 and June 2000 for three months (the latter caused by lack of government payments). Half of the major concrete work for the parallel taxi-way had already been completed and the eastern taxi-way was finished and in use by mid-2000. The project is now estimated to finish in March 2001 but faces a big problem in recruiting skilled labour which left the project.

The government is clearly planning for increased airport usage, though much will depend on factors such as the success of the controversial Asian village project currently under construction, the continued survival of ANU-based LIAT and growth of long-haul markets especially ex-UK.

The government, in a move to relinquish day-to-day control of the airport, set in motion in mid-2000 the Airport Authority Bill 2000 which grants the Airport Authority the right to set fees, rates and charges for services it would provide including guaranteeing the safety of the airport on Antigua and the other one on the sister-island of Barbuda.

Jamaica Airports Privatisation

In May 1999, Transport and Works Minister Dr Peter Phillips told Parliament that "a programme is being put in place for the privatisation of the airports and we continue to ensure that the airports operate at the highest standards of safety and security".

Montego Bay Airport (MBJ), Jamaica

21JAN03 Spanish builder Dragados announced today that a consortium it leads (MBJ Airports Limited) has won a contract to remodel and run Jamaica's biggest airport, Sangster International. The Montego Bay airport had traffic of more than 3.1 million passengers in 2002, with operating profit of 7.1 million euros (US$7.55 million) and revenues of 21 million euros (US$22.3 million). With a 35 percent stake, Dragados heads the consortium of companies which will operate the airport from 1 March 2003 for 30 years, including commercial, restaurant and duty-free services. At the end of that period the Jamaican government will decide whether to resume control of the facilities or enter into a new contract.

The other members of MBJ Airports include Vancouver Airport Services out of Canada, a company that already operates 14 airports in five countries across the world, a Chilean firm called Agunsa which has a track record in airport privatisations and Ashtrom, a construction company out of Israel that has worked in Jamaica for the past 30 years.

The remodelling of the airport will require total investment of 165 million euros (US$175.5 million), Dragados said, adding that it estimated that its revenues would rise eight percent annually on average over 10 years. Under the new management, jet bridges will be installed at all existing gates at the airport shortly, while other physical improvements will be made in the immigration and customs departments during the first 18 months.

There have been protests from airport workers who said they were strongly opposed to the clause which requires them to have their pension funds transferred to the new contract.

Under the deal, which has been in discussion since 1998 and was finally wound up over the last 16 months, there is a three-tier fee arrangement that the Government believes will guarantee it a share of any profits generated. In return for expanding and upgrading the airport, MBJ Airports will pay a concessionaire fee to the Airports Authority of Jamaica. That fee will be based on:

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will retain the right to set the maximum aeronautical fees that can be levied. These fees will be reviewed by the CAA after the first 12 years of the lease agreement and then at the end of every five years thereafter. The three-tier concession fee arrangement recognises the uncertainty inherent in terms of forecast, and that actual revenues are not likely to be exactly as forecast. A commitment to a basic concession fee guarantees a return to the Government on the existing assets and participation in returns beyond that forecast. It also ensures that any excess benefits are shared equitably with the people of Jamaica.

But with the divestment will come some job losses as the new operators will evaluate the existing work force over the next three months and decide whom they will retain.

The new arrangement also requires departing passengers to pay an airport improvement fee of US$5 (about J$253) that will be added to their ticket prices and then paid over on a weekly basis. That fee will be placed in a fund and used for capital improvements at the airport.

The three-phased expansion project is set to begin with phase 1A when the concessionaire takes control on March 1. This first phase will include the installation of six jet bridges on the existing terminal and the installation of a modern, computerised security control system at the airport.

Phase 1B is set to begin on July 1, 2003 and will include construction of a 12-gate airside concourse to tie into the existing terminal. This aspect of the project will also include jet bridges, gate lounges and shopping areas.

The final phase II will begin in July 2005 at the latest and will include:

The government approved in May 1999 a US$21 million expansion project for the Donald Sangster International (MBJ) airport to begin mid-year, though contract signings for the 20-month project did not take place until January 2000. This brings to US$100m the estimated cost of improvements since the 8-gate terminal was upgraded in 1993. US$57 million had already been spent in refurbishing work to facilitate the implementation of the Air Jamaica hub operations in June 1997, but continued growth in air traffic required additional expansion even prior to the airline's privatisation in late 1994. Major expansion work is required at the terminal that was designed to accommodate 1,000 passengers at peak hour, but has now been forced to accommodate 1,800 passengers per hour.

The main components of Phase One of the project, started in March 2000, include:

Work also began in 2000 on the construction of the infrastructure for a private aircraft complex.

Phase Two will include building a new 16-gate landside terminal, which will be linked to the existing terminal by a concourse, and major upgrading of the airport infrastructure. This work is needed as up to 1,800 passengers an hour are using an airport designed for 1,000 an hour. A dozen investors were selected for consideration, subsequently reduced to four, one of which will be chosen. It is reported that a concern of investors is the failure of some airlines to pay their airport fees.

In a move to attract finance for the new terminal, the government is set to cede both the aeronautical and terminal operations of the airport for 30 years, with a 100 percent revenue stake, estimated to be JM$700/US$15.9m a year, granted to the new operator. The National Investment Bank of Jamaica (NIBJ) is handling the process for awarding the contract. There are four bidders:

The proposals are now being evaluated by NIBJ with particular regard to the commercial, financial, technical and legal aspects of each proposal. It is expected that a preferred bidding group will be identified by the end of May 2001 and that final negotiations with this group will commence immediately thereafter. The successful bidding group will be awarded a 30-year concession to develop, manage and operate Sangster International Airport and will pay an annual concession fee to the Government. The group that is awarded this concession will have an immediate obligation to implement an agreed plan for the expansion and upgrade of the airport. It is expected to cost between US$120-150 million to develop the airport in accordance with the required standards. This cost will be borne by the group that is awarded the concession. At the end of the 30-year period the airport, including the additions made by the private operator, will revert to the Government.

Built in the 1940s as a Royal Navy Base, MBJ processed about 2.7m passengers in 1999, about 80 percent of whom were tourists. The airport accounts for nearly 60 percent of Jamaica's international traffic.

Aerodromes of Jamaica

A new airfield lighting system and other airside works will be carried out at Kingston's Tinson Pen (KTP) from late 1999. It will include resurfacing of the ramp, apron and taxiways, as well as upgrading of the drainage system.

In respect of the Boscobel (OCJ) and Ken Jones (POT) aerodromes over the two years up to May 1999, $70.2 million was spent on rehabilitating the runway, taxiway, ramp and apron facilities.

Kingston Airport, Jamaica

Since September 1996, the government has undertaken major works at the Norman Manley International (KIN) airport including the airside infrastructure (the runway, taxiways and apron), replacement of the underground hydrant fuelling system, improvements to the drainage system with the installation of oil separation chambers and construction of a number of trestles in the Kingston Harbour to support the upgraded lighting system.

Phase 1, completed in 1999 at at a cost of US$12.5m, included full depth excavation and reconstruction of all eight taxiways, of about 40 acres; removal of asphalt surfacing and total resurfacing of 2.8 km of runway; rehabilitation of the runway and taxiway lighting system; construction of an electrical sub-station; vastly improved airside signage; and security fencing and shore protection around the perimeter of the airport.

Danish contractors E Pihl and Sons Associate spent 12 months up to March 2000 on the US$13.426m phase 2 project, involving demolition and reconstruction of the parking apron, decommissioning of the existing fuelling hydrant system, installation of a new lieks at the existing fuel farm and installation of electrical equipment to ensure efficient operations of the hydrant system to be installed.

Phase 3 of the programme, due for completion in 2000, comprises:

The Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ) had also embarked since 1998 on a substantial 3-year upgrading programme of the terminal building and associated facilities at a cost of US$16m.

Improvements have already been done to the Customs Hall and additional work would include extension and renovation of the existing departure/transit lounge with 600 seats (twice the existing capacity); upgrading of the departure/ticketing concourse with a mix of shop concessions which will include fast food and gourmet restaurants and a wide range of stores; reconfiguration of the Customs exit and ground transportation arcade; construction of remote parking facilities; redesigning and expansion of existing roads, car parks and landscaped areas.

Funds had been provided by the Inter-American Development Bank, Japan EXIM Bank, the Nordic Development Fund, the Multilateral Investment Fund and the Government of Jamaica.

However, in May 1999, the government announced that the cost had rocketed to US$60 million from the US$46 million previously estimated by the AAJ.

Barbados Airport

The Barbados government, in collaboration with lead architecture firm Queen's Quay Architects International of Toronto, started in November 1998 on a 5-year, US$70m project (revised a year later to US$80m) to expand and modernise Grantley Adams International (BGI), one of the region's busiest airports. A consortium led by Sypher:Mueller International Inc., a Canadian airport consultancy firm, has been retained to undertake the design and supervise the construction work.

This work had been prompted by the great increase in traffic over the previous few years, especially from charter flights, which on a busy days such as Mondays resulted in over 1000 passengers in a departure area designed for about 350. There has since been a further increase in traffic with the arrival of Virgin Atlantic Airways in October 1998, and Air Jamaica announced in late 1999 that BGI would be its Eastern Caribbean hub.

Phase 1 includes:

It is planned to complete this phase by June 2000.

Phase 2 will consist of total refashioning and refurbishing of the current building and the addition of a new arrivals hall. The expansion and refurbishment of the airport complex itself would cost about US$45 million.

The present arrivals hall will be converted into a shopping mall and a completely new building would be erected next to the current structure to house a new arrivals hall. A central foyer would link the two structures together so that arriving passengers will come along walkways to the central point where there will be seating, perhaps a welcoming steel band and drinks. Then they will go into the new arrivals hall. There will be five new maximum-width conveyor belts installed. Intransit passengers, currently poorly catered for, would find it easier to get connecting flights as there will be special facilities for them to check in and out.

There will be large tent-like awnings constructed from tension fabric which will be placed over the gathering areas for both arriving and departing passengers to provide a large, covered, welcoming central point. The awnings would distinguish the airport from others by transforming it into a glowing spectacle when lit from inside. The existing open building will also be made into an assembly point in the departures part of the airport. It will also be covered with awnings and there will be glazing around the wind side so to keep out the rain.

After checking in, passengers would then go in to the departures area through a shopping mall, so that they are still being encouraged to spend money before they leave. The long arrivals concourse will be refurbished into a long, thin departures lounge which would be right next to the gates as is the layout in most international airports. Departing passengers will gather at their gates rather than being condensed into one area and from there they can go straight on to the aircraft without having to stand in line at the boarding gates.

Phase 3 is the construction of a 100,000 square foot cargo facility, a new building located on the present site of the Terminal 2 buildings which will be demolished. There will also be an expanded cargo apron.

By January 2000, work completed included runway and taxiway improvements, the refurbished ramp equipment area, conversion of much of the first level observation area into an Arrivals area and replacement of X-ray machines with new machines to check passengers and small pieces of luggage. Work on the water treatment plant is planned for completion by the end of 2000.

Funding has comes initially from Caribbean Development Bank and US$16m has been earmarked from European Investment Bank for construction of the new arrivals hall.

In the meantime, however, the airport management is concerned that a severe staff shortage and faulty radar will cause delays during the 2000/01 winter season.

Tortola Beef Island (EIS) Airport, British Virgin Islands

The government of the BVI is undertaking its largest project, the US$55 million Airport Expansion Project which includes a new terminal, extended runway, expanded apron, a new control tower, a new operations block and a new access road. The project is being co-funded by the European Development Fund (EDF), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the government of the British Virgin Islands. Furthermore, all the foreign contractors have agreed to use all possible local materials and labour on the project.

Once completed, the airport will be renamed Terrence B Lettsome International in honour of the former minister of Communications and Works.

The airport's problem is that its small terminal building cannot handle increasing traffic arising from economic growth, resulting in unacceptable overcrowding during peak periods for many of the 300,000 passengers who pass through the airport every year. Furthermore, the short runway places commercial constraints on the airlines. The new airport is seen by the government as a key factor in the future of the BVI by assisting in the projection of the BVI as an up-market tourist destination.

The project, started in February 2000 for completion by July 2002, will incorporate the construction of a new passenger terminal building and cargo facility terminal, landlide and airside infrastructure including a new car park, new access roads, drainage works, security fencing and enlargement of the airport parking and the reclamation of land to extend the existing runway by 1,000ft to 4,600ft and a new control tower and administration. The purpose of the runway extension is primarily to enable larger turboprop aircraft, especially the 64-seat American Eagle ATRs, to use the airport. The use of larger aircraft not only brings more capacity but enables an airline such as American Eagle to readily substitute a 64-seat ATR for a 42-seat ATR, thus providing operational flexibility.

There are four phases in the project to upgrade the airport. Phase 1, due to start in March 2000 -- construction actually started in September 2000 -- for completion in July 2001 (now October 2001), is the construction of the passenger building, the cargo building, the landside infrastructure and the new aprons. The US$14.2 million contract was awarded in December 1999 to Nord France Enterprises Internationales of France, a company which has extensive in building hotels, airports, hospitals, public buildings, schools, and colleges in the Caribbean during the past 20 years. The terminal, to be located southeast of the existing terminal, will have 46,000ft of floor space and the capacity to process up to 460 passengers at peak hour (up from the current 150) and handle 700,000 passenger a year. There will be a simple mechanical baggage handling system that will enable passengers to quickly reclaim their luggage from a single moving belt in the Arrivals area.

The terminal will be naturally ventilated, although aircooling will be provided in the Departure areas. There will be catering facilities and a spectator viewing area at the upper level.

The small cargo building will be separate from the terminal, thus ensuring that cargo users do not intermingle with passengers.

The US$4.6m contract for Phase 2 for the construction of new access roads, car parks and the services to the landside of the terminal building by July 2001 was awarded in January 2000 to St Thomas-based J McArdle who was able to start work immediately. McArdle agreed to place more than 80 percent of the work with local contractors in the civil engineering, mechanical and electrical services sectors. A new access road is required for the new terminal and will also provide a separate access to Trellis Bay and remainder of Beef Island. The new road system includes a 520ft long two lane departure/access arrival access road at the terminal frontage, a car park initially with 150 spaces and a holding rank for up to 40 taxis. In addition, there will be a new bridge linking Beef Island with East End to handle extra traffic.

Phase 3 is the construction of a new apron, which will be about three times the size of the existing one, a new control tower and operations block and the equipment for that, the landscaping of all the public areas on the approaches to and around the car parks at the airport, the provision of the public area furnishings and the construction of a sewerage treatment facility for the airport. The reconstruction and extension of the aircraft parking apron will accommodate up to eight 70-seat regional jets whilst maintaining a separate area for general aviation aircraft. The first part of the apron is due for completion by February 2001, but the rest can be constructed only after passengers are transferred to the new terminal. So, tendering will not be done until May 2000 for completion by August 2001 (now April 2002), by which time the existing terminal will have been demolished. It is expected that the control tower and operations block will not be completed until mid-2002.

A refueling facility will also be provided in this phase. This helps airlines in increasing capacity as American Eagle currently has to fly into Tortola with four empty seats as fuel must be tankered out of its San Juan base for the return flight.

Phase 4 is the runway extension, due to start in May 2000 for completion by July 2001, to match the opening of the new terminal. The contract was awarded in September 1999 to Philip Holzmann Ltd of Germany. This is an extension of approximately 1,000 feet that is being facilitated by the in filling of Conch Shell Bay and the lowering of Conch Shell Point. Work is well advanced on the construction of the new approach road on the western end of the runway, to improve the width of the airfield strip and provide a turning facility for the airplanes. A new taxiway holding will be provided at both ends of the runway, thereby increasing the capacity in the number of aircraft received during peak period. There will be a new airfield lighting system will ensure an up-to-date, safe operating environment, which fully complies with international standards for a wide range of regional aircraft.

The government had to purchase two small parcels of land on either side of the runway totalling 36 acres. With this purchase, the total airport land area will be about 143 acres as the old airport occupies 88 acres and 19 acres have come from the reclamation of Conch Bay.

Virgin Gorda Airport, British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands government has decided, on a recommendation by British consultants Halcrow Transportation Infrastructure, to purchase and operate the Virgin Gorda airport (VIJ) even though it would not be able to pay for itself for the next 30 years. The government's decision was based largely on the need to provide a fast and reliable transportation service to the island's only industry - tourism. The airstrip is owned by Little Dix Bay Hotel and government has begun negotiations with the owners.

Sint Maarten Airport, Netherlands Antilles

Princess Juliana International (SXM) airport has embarked on its NAf15m (US$8.4m) Airport Master Plan to substantially upgrade and expand its facilities, but obtaining financing has been the single most and increasingly complicated constraint in getting projects started. Phase I includes the Flamingo Pond project, being the construction of the apron in the filled-in pond area which will double the apron size to 29,000 square metres, enabling the number of parked widebody jets to rise from six to 10 and so greatly increase the airport's potential. This expansion will also allow for future growth in passenger movements to St Maarten over and above the current level (in 2000) of 1.6 million per annum. The project was planned to start in mid-March 2000 for completion by November 2000 in time for the peak 2000/01 tourist season, but work had not yet started by July 2000 as financing arrangements were not quite completed. By April 2001, only 40 per cent of the apron was completed. The bulk of the financing will be provided by Windward Islands Bank and Maduro and Curiel's Bank which have made a 10-year, 9 per cent non-revolving consortium loan of US$5.4 million.

The construction of the apron will coincide with the introduction of buses to transfer passengers between aircraft and terminal, thus removing the need for a long walk.

Another development has been the new, modern Flight Information System, which was done in the last six months of 1999.

In April 2000, a 4-month construction project started on building a new 1,000 sq metre departure/VIP lounge situated on the second floor above the departure lounge which had to be expanded and redesigned. The project's estimated cost was NAf. 2 million provided through a loan from the Windward Islands Bank. It is now expected to be open on 15DEC00 and to be run by American Airlines.

Also in April 2000 was the setting up of the new Customer Information Desk and Flight Information Display.

In September 2000, work was completed on upgrading and expanding the departure hall from 700 sq metres to 1,100 sq metres. The whole area is now airconditioned (it was previously open) and two TV sets will be installed. Furthermore, two more mini-shops, one selling gift items and the other one alcohol, will be opened before the end of 2000. The departure hall has two bars.

Another development is the introduction of new radar facilities in a two-stage process. The first stage cost US$2.1m, mostly financed externally, to ensure Year 2000 compliance. The second stage will cost US$13m and will entail the construction of a new building and installation of a new radar dome. Financing has proved a problem and had not been arranged (at end-April 2001).

Phase II

In August 2000, the airport unveiled the Phase II details of its US$100m Airport Master Plan. Aimed at managing high traffic increases predicted in the region for the next decade, the plan includes a new 26,520 square-metre, two-level terminal building with four jet bridges terminal building partly constructed with glass that is designed to handle 2.5 million passengers per year. This new terminal's 56 check-in counters will be needed as the current terminal's 36 check-in counters is inhibiting growth. The plan also includes six baggage claim belts, a new Air Traffic Control tower, separate departure rooms for smaller and larger aircraft, shops on a second level and accommodation for US Customs and Immigration. Negotiations are yet to start with the US authorities, but if the plan is achieved, US-bound passengers will be in US territory the moment they enter the area designated for those departments. The presence of US Customs and Immigration, as is noticed in Aruba, the Bahamas and other countries where they have that arrangement, increases passenger movement by 10 per cent. The financial model provides for US$103 million total financing -- US$60 million for Phase II -- which SXM should be able to arrange, partially through increased airport fees.

The airport believes it must expand to cope with growth as IATA forecasts for the Caribbean predict that by 2014 passenger activity will grow by 33.3 per cent, more than two per cent per year. Aircraft movements will increase by 25 per cent.

Also included in phase 2 is the dredging and filling in of the most south western corner of the Simpson Bay Lagoon directly northeast of the present terminal building (started early 2001). A total of 53,000 square metres will be filled in this environmentally dead area, and sand left over from the filling in of Flamingo Pond is being used. This project is planned for completion in January 2002. On the new land, a new large parking area and a new road to Maho will be created starting at Stop & Shop up and around the reclaimed land underneath the hill at BBW. The latter company is being relocated. The filling in of the lagoon makes the removal of Stop & Shop, Texaco and Avis no longer necessary.

If all goes well, construction will be finished by 2003/04. However, the use of glass looks dubious in hurricane-prone Caribbean and the out-of-way location of shops have provoked a design rethink which may delay the project.

In April 2001, a contract was signed between the airport's operating company PJIAE NV and the Netherlands Airport Consultants (NACO), includes the designing and preparation of tender documents for Phase II, among other things.

SXM info: Constructed in 1943 to accommodate 1.2 million passengers, the airport reached its saturation point in the early 1990s. 1,576,308 passengers were handled in 2000 (1,597,047 passengers in 1999), but SXM predicts that passenger traffic will increase to about 2.5 million by 2014. PJIAE President: Eugene Holiday

Guyana Airports

IDB Loan

In the most comprehensive aviation sector project it had ever financed, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved in October 1999 a US$30m soft 40-year loan to support a comprehensive air transport sector improvement programme, including regulatory and institutional reforms, investments in infrastructure, and institutional modernisation. A further US$1.5m will be provided locally.

The bank said that the resources will help the Guyana Ministry of Public Works and Communications (MPWC) undertake a thorough review of the statutory, regulatory and institutional framework of the sector and in taking steps to increase private sector participation in operating air transport facilities and services.

In short, Guyana's reform programme aims to raise its air transport services to international standards as its airports are outdated and deteriorated. The main airport, Cheddi Jagan International (GEO), is in decent condition only thanks to improvements in the 1990s financed by the Canadian International Development Agency.

As a requirement for the loan, IDB set many conditions for Guyana based upon a 1998 study performed by Lufthansa Consulting GmbH. They included:

IDB also recommended private concessions for the country's two main airports, GEO and Ogle (OGL), both of which serve Georgetown, the capital, or possibly privatising OGL. In an April 1998 report, Norconsult International A.S. recommended that Ogle become privately owned and operated as well as expanded to accommodate domestic and regional traffic to destinations including Barbados, Brazil and Venezuela.

Infrastructure investments will be made at GEO over the next three years to bring it under full compliance of standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Also, GEO is estimated to require at least US$9 million in improvements to handle traffic over the next six years and another US$35 million in improvements within 15 years.

The reform program will require upgrades of air navigation equipment, but no cost is available.

IDB said technical co-operation will be available to help the government reform governing statutes, develop air transport regulations, create a Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, convert the management of the Cheddi Jagan airport into an incentive-based corporation, and privatising Ogle.

Policies will be adopted to improve aviation services and facilities in the interior of the country in sectors such as effective national search and rescue operations, creating regional control centres, and greater supervision over small official airports.

Reform Programme

Following the grant of the IDB loan, the government approved in December 1999 a bill to re-establish the Civil Aviation Authority. The CAA would be an oversight and a regulatory body and would be applying the international rules of Civil Aviation. It would oversee all the activities of the local aviation industry, making sure they conform with international roles and then itself as a regulatory body, setting roles and setting guidelines for these operators.

The government also announced the "corporatisation" of the Cheddi Jagan airport by taking it out of the control of the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) and putting it into the hands of a legal entity. This move is part of the whole reform process in the public service of making some agencies semi-autonomous bodies.

It looks likely that the airport's board will include representation from the private sector and from the Government.

St Croix Airport

Terminal Building Expansion & Renovation

The Virgin Islands Port Authority is currently expanding and renovating the Henry E Rohlsen Airport (STX) in an effort to attract new airlines and accommodate more passengers. The US$40 million project began in 1997. It includes: doubling the size of the airport's terminal; building more boarding gates; creating additional parking spaces to serve eight jet aircraft and eight commuter aircraft; and creating a new pre-clearance area to facilitate the processing of passengers. A major phase of this project was completed at the beginning of fiscal year 2001/02 with the opening of the east wing on 03OCT00. The wing features a new baggage claim area with two conveyor belts and an intermodal facility, which will serve as a lounge for deplaning passengers awaiting shuttle service to hotels, the Ann E. Abramson Pier and other venues. Work continues on the second phase of the project, which includes refurbishing the west wing to develop a food court with five restaurants, two commercial retail shops and new airline ticket counters. The terminal is slated to be completed in 2001.

Runway Extension

The Port Authority is in the process of extending the runway from 7,600 to 10,000 feet. This US$18 million project will improve safety conditions and increase the airport's capacity to handle larger aircraft such as the Boeing 747, more airlines, and more cargo and passengers. Aircraft will also be able to increase their fuel capacity. The current fuel restrictions, which is necessary due to the length of the runway, limits flights into S. Croix from certain destinations. The runway extension will allow carriers to fly directly to the Virgin Islands from Europe, Canada, South America and the US West Coast. This project began in November 1999 and is slated to be completed in May 2002.

Construction of a New Air Traffic Control Tower

A new, US$3.4m state-of-the-art Air Traffic Control Tower will be constructed. Work on this project is scheduled to start in FY 2001/02.

Repair Apron and Taxiways

The asphalt apron and taxiways leading to the terminal building will be resurfaced to repair any damages caused by normal wear and tear. This project will extend the life of the taxiway and improve safety conditions. It is scheduled to start in FY 2001/02. The estimated cost is US$1.9m.

Airport Brief

The Henry E Rohlsen Airport (STX) is located on the southwestern end of St Croix, US Virgin Islands. It operates from 0530 to 2300, and the Air Traffic Control Tower operates from 0700 to 2300. The length of the airport's runway is 7,600 feet.

St Thomas Airport

Upgrading of Security System

The Virgin Islands Port Authority is enhancing security at Cyril E King Airport (STT). In FY 2000/02, a new security system was installed in the terminal. This included upgrading the airport's computer system, installing new monitoring equipment such as additional cameras, installing explosive trace detection devices and installing a high-tech badging system. Also installed were several "Help lines" in the terminal, these being new phones which are connected directly to the airport's security office so that the public can report any emergencies or problems they may have while visiting the airport.

Oily Water Separator System

This is a major maintenance project that is required by the federal government. The system captures the initial runoff from the concrete parking apron around the terminal building and separates the oil from the water. The petroleum-based liquids and other lubricants are retained in a storage tank for legal disposal before the runoff is discharged into the ocean. It is scheduled to begin in Fiscal Year 2001/02 at an estimated cost of US$300,000.

Airport Brief

The Cyril E King Airport (STT) is located on the southwestern end of St Thomas, US Virgin Islands. It operates 24 hours a day. Aircraft, rescue and fire fighting services are available from 0600 to 2300. The Air Traffic Control Tower operates from 0700 to 2230. The length of the airport's runway is 7,000 feet.

Grenada Airport

Airport Renovations

The Grenada Airports Authority is undertaking from January 2000 major renovations at Point Salines International (GND), the island's sole operational airport. A 12-month, EC$22m (US$8.1m) contract was awarded to Lagan Holdings (a civil and marine engineering company in Belfast), with management done by DIWI Consulting, to resurface the runway, construct a sea defence, aircondition the Arrivals and Departures halls and upgrade the fire hall's living conditions. There is additional work, estimated to cost EC$17m (US$6.3m), to construct a new terminal and expand the apron.

The top priority was the runway which, although resurfaced in 1994, had suffered serious erosion from rough seas in February and March 1998. Repair work had been planned to commence in 1999, but did not take place. Further erosion was then caused by the high seas generated by Hurricane Lenny in November 1999 which damaged Grenada's west coast. The resurfacing (of the runway, taxiway and turning head) and contruction of a sea defence should prevent any further runway damage.

The apron, which is the area in front of the terminal for parking and servicing aircraft, has been doubled in width by adding 240,000 sq ft to cope simultaneously with three Boeing 747-sized or up to five smaller widebody aircraft. A problem could occur on a day like Friday when three widebody jets arrived in the 1999/2000 winter season. (These were a British Airways 747-400, a Caledonian Airways DC-10-30 and a Condor 767-300ER.) It only took either of the first two to be late to create a congestion problem both on the apron and in the Arrivals and Departures halls.

It is this sort of congestion which has prompted the Airports Authority to add airconditioning to these halls. The Arrivals hall badly needed this work as it was scarcely cooled by a single fan. As for the Departures area, it comprises two lounges: the main one is already airconditioned but the smaller one is not, so will benefit from airconditioning. Furthermore, additional shops will be built in the lounge.

The terminal extension with 14 check-in desks was to be built from the eastern end, which is the end used by American Airlines and American Eagle, into the car park which, in turn, would be resited east of the terminal. However, this planned extension was scrapped due to the the axeing of the daily American Airlines jet service from Miami. Some reallocation of check-in desks has been done to relieve pressure in the main check-in area, with the terminal adjacent to the car park which used to accommodate American and American Eagle now used not only by Eagle but also by British Airways, BWIA, Caribbean Star and Royal Air.

Other improvements included a new first class lounge, a new private arrivals facility, a new first floor restaurant area, an extended departure lounge, a new tour operators' area and new landside canopies for the arrivals and departures area.

Funding came partly from Enterprise Development of Trinidad which arranged soft financing. Furthermore, the adult departure tax has been raised sharply to help pay for the airport works: it was upped from EC$35 to EC$40 in January 1998 and raised again in late 1999 to EC$50 (US$13.50). A passenger facilitation charge of EC$20 (US$7.40) for each arriving passenger was also implemented from June 2000.

By February 2001, virtually all of the original planned work had been completed with the notable exception of the terminal extension. However, the overall cost has escalated from EC$39m (US$14.4m) to EC$45m (US$16.7m) even though the terminal extension has not been built. A reason for the increase was the cost of EC$14m (US$5.2m) for widening the apron.

Ground Handling

From July 2000, LIAT, which had been doing more than 90 per cent of the ground handling for the past fifteen years, lost its contract worth EC$2.2m (US$ 814,814) per annum to Aviation Services of Grenada, a subsidiary formed by the Airports Authority with exclusive rights to ground handling. The Airports Authority said that LIAT's performance had deteriorated, but the bringing in-house of ground handling can be seen as part of the effort to raise the US$16.7m to pay for the airport repairs and upgrades.

New Airlines

The Airports Authority is seeking additional flights from the US, with Continental and Delta under consideration. Only Air Jamaica flies scheduled into Grenada from North America (twice-weekly from New York Kennedy) following the withdrawal by BWIA and American.

Aruba Airport

Work on a two-year, US$50m project began in July 1996 to expand and renovate Aruba's Reina Beatrix International (AUA) airport. Subsequently, the project, named Beatrix 2000, became a 3-year project for completion by December 2000 to cope with traffic by 2010 and was recosted at US$70m.

Two new terminal buildings for departures and holding rooms and the renovation of the existing terminal building for arrivals will raise passenger capacity by a third to 2.6m, 1,470 departing passengers (800 US Pre-clearance and 670 non-US) and 1,260 arriving passengers will be accommodated at peak hours and 10 aircraft positions (with a new automated aircraft parking system) and eight airbridges will be added. This should give AUA a similar capacity to Barbados's Grantley Adams International, which is one of the Caribbean's major airports.

Other main improvements include the electronic Friends of Aruba ID card to expedite repeat visitors through immigration and an expanded US Federal Inspection Services with the addition of US Agricultural and Customs inspection posts. This latter upgrade will enable AUA to market itself as a stop for Caribbean flights on the way to the US as passengers can get US pre-clearance, thus boosting tourism on which the island is overwhelmingly dependent.

In total there will be 19 peak hour positions for aircraft parking as follows.

Peak-Hour Aircraft Positions at New AUA Airport
Boeing 747/MD-11 3
Airbus A310 4
Airbus A320 4
Boeing 757 2
Fokker F50 4
Long-term (MD-11) 2
Total 19

Furthermore, air conditioning will be greatly increased, the baggage claim area will be expanded by installing more conveyor belts and a new flight information display system (FIDS) will be installed. Shopping, public areas and holding rooms will be expanded. Outside, road improvements, including a new terminal access road, and a bus and taxi feeder system will be added, as well as an upgrade to the control tower. These improvements should enable the airport to meet its overall objective of getting people to the beach in under 30 minutes.

The first terminal is for international, non-US bound passengers. It contains 24 ticket counters, airline offices, an outbound baggage area and a make up area behind the airline offices.

The second terminal is for US bound passengers. It includes 42 ticket counters, airline offices and US Immigration/US custom facilities for US pre-clearance, meaning that passengers flying to the US will be taking domestic flights into the US.

The existing terminal building has been remodeled to form a new arrivals-only hall with Aruba Immigration and Customs, airport administrative offices and external ticket sales offices.

The new airport consists of three floors. The first floor has all the check-in facilities for US bound and non-US bound passengers and a walkway to the concessions area situated also on the first floor. The arrival hall/baggage claim area is located in the centre of the whole building on the first floor.

The second floor consists of the holding rooms for US-bound and non-US bound passengers and the Aruban Immigration which arriving passengers will have to pass before entering the arrival hall. This floor has corridors with glass walls for the arriving passengers. They will then go on to the third floor and down again to the second floor by escalator or elevator to go through the Aruban Immigration on the second floor.

The arriving and departing passengers will therefore not intermingle during their flow through the airport.

However, there is no report on the development of in-transit lounges, the lack of which forces AUA's in-transit passengers to clear immigration and customs and to check in for their connecting flight.

The complete project consists of two phases.

Phase 1 (completed by end-1999):

Phase 2 (to be completed by end-2000)

San Juan Airport

The Port Authority of Puerto Rico is currently engaged in 18 projects costing US$154m at the Luis Muñoz Marin International (SJU) airport in Isla Verde. Completed projects include a new multilevel parking lot for US$35m, a US$2.1m demolition and repavement of a terminal to increase space for regional carriers and, in October 1999, a US$50m taxiway. This taxiway connects two runways, enabling aircraft to move in both directions for takeoffs and landings. Operational capacity has been increased by 30 percent and delay costs will be cut by approximately US$6m.



12NOV02 A new, 600m runway airport will be constructed at Geralds in the north of the island, with an opening some time in 2004. The airport is regarded as essential to the rebuilding of tourism, as many people do not want to travel from Antigua by helicopter or ferry. The runway will be able to accommodate aircraft such as the 19-seat Twin Otter. Halcrow Group was appointed in January 2002 to design the airport. The cost of the project is estimated at EC$48 million (US$17.8 million), to be funded mainly by the UK and the EC.

The airport has been designed to meet international regulations and regional standards. The Directorate of Civil Aviation Eastern Caribbean States (DCA), which is responsible for air safety in the region, has been kept fully informed of the design. There had been much debate concerning the various merits of other sites - Blakes, Old Quaw and Thatch Valley - but Geralds was chosen. Critics of the airport site include the Committee for the Redevelopment of Montserrat (CRM), a non-political organisation which argues that the runway needs to be at least 700 metres to accommodate an emergency stop of the 19-seater Twin Otter aircraft, and that the precipices at both ends of the airport are also dangerous.

The main features of the airport are:

This artist's impression of the airport shows the tunnel at the right.

It is estimated that, judging from the strength and direction of the wind, the airport usability will be 98.7 per cent, which is above ICAO's recommendation of 95 per cent of the time for safety reasons.

The business case for the airport includes a saving of EC$16 million a year spent on subsidising transport services such as helicopter and ferry. Traffic forecasts for the airport include 66,000 people in 2004, 69,000 in 2005, 72,000 in 2006, 75,600 in 2007 and 79,400 in 2008.

Following the destruction of the W H Bramble (MNI) airport terminal by pyroclastic flows from the Soufriere Hills volcano in June 1997, various airport options were studied by GIBB in 1998. Three main options were put forward for a new airport location: Thatch Valley, Blakes and Geralds Park. The most suitable is Thatch Valley, but the British Government rejected this as too costly at £90m (US$145m). However, the non-governmental Committee for the Re-development of Montserrat (CRM), believing that Montserrat urgently needs an airport to develop tourism, is raising finance to look further into the feasibility of Thatch Valley.


A modern heliport with a permanent control tower structure at Geralds Bottom costing US$1m has been constructed to replace the makeshift heliport which was used following the destruction of the airport. There are plans to install landing lights at the chopper pad, so the island will soon have 24-hour emergency helicopter service.

Dominica Airport

The construction of the controversial US$110m, 10,000ft international airport at Wesley and the provision of other infrastructure in support of this project was a main focus of Dominica's United Workers' Government. This airport would replace the island's existing airports, Cane Field (DCF) and Melville Hall (DOM), which can neither handle jet aircraft nor night landing, lack global positioning systems and have poor access roads. The airports therefore severely restrict Dominica's plans for significant tourism expansion, especially hotel development where the government plans to increase rooms from 867 in late 1999 to 3,500 in the next five to ten years, and prevent local produce, particularly flowers, from being exported quickly.

The Government was seeking to start construction work early in 2000 for completion 30 months later. The operation and management of the airport would be done by an international airport operator who may make an investment in the project.

The controversy is mainly about the location and cost of the airport, with some people questioning the need for the airport at all. A 1988 study of the possible suitable sites for the construction of an international airport did not consider the site at Wesley. The Dominica Airport Study prepared by GIBB examined sites at Laplaine, Cabrits, Douglas Bay, Pointe Ronde, Salisbury, Crompton Pointe and Woodford Hill, and recommended a site in Woodford Hill.

But the government was determined to build the airport at Wesley, just north of Melville Hall in the northeast, and had a US$1m survey of the area carried out in 1998 which apparently reported that the project would be viable. Construction of the new airport at Wesley would, however, affect the St Andrews High School, the Woodford Hill Agricultural Station, prime farm lands and dwelling houses in the Wesley area.

The costs of the airport are staggering for a small, poor country like Dominica. By summer 1999, the government had spent US$2.9m on feasibility studies, economic viability, environmental impact assessment, preliminary and final designs including drainage works, and a further US$5.9m to purchase Londonderry Estate, the main part of the site for an international airport.

The cost of constructing the international airport and attendant infrastructure is estimated at US$110 million, being US$80m for the airport, US$10m for land re-settlement payments to (deeply unhappy) displaced farmers, and US$20m for construction of access roads. The cost includes construction of the runway, the terminal building, a new secondary school, relocation of surrounding roadways, water mains, electricity and telephone lines and a three-lane highway from Pond case to the new airport.

Furthermore, the Dominica Conservation Association reckoned in early 1999 that there are substantial hidden costs in constructing the airport. Destruction of some 300 acres of the most successfully diversified farms in Dominica would be required at a time when over-dependence on bananas is exposing Dominica to tragic economic circumstances. It is also at a time when renewed efforts at agricultural diversification are underway.

The Association has figured out financial costs, too, by highlighting the 2,000 avocado trees in 40 of the above-mentioned 300 acres. At a price of EC$2 (US$0.74) per fruit, some EC$12m (US$444,400) per annum in income would be lost, much of it in foreign exchange. These figures would have to be multiplied several times over for the wide range of crops in the area.

A major task for the Government has been arranging the funding for the airport project. This has been done as follows:

A major issue concerns outstanding debt resulting from grants, concessionary and non-concessionary loans for the airport project which would peak at US$163.9 or 65 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product in fiscal year 2000/01. Also, total debt repayments (amortisation plus interest) could reach as high as US$16.1m, which represents 19.4 per cent of revenue in 1999/2000.

The question still remains: does it make sense to build this airport? Interestingly, the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association president Atherton Martin questioned the need for the airport in March 1999, stating that tourism could be enhanced without the benefit of an international airport. The DHTA president said that Dominica, offering a different vacation package, needs to market that package in the Caribbean. "We have no organised marketing campaign for Dominica in the Caribbean," said Martin.

He noted that Nevis, without an international airport but one extended to 4000 ft, and St Kitts were being served by more American Eagle [turboprop] flights. And the St Kitts International airport is unable to attract the desired volume of traffic.

Referring to the feasibility study carried out by a team of consultants on the proposed international airport project, Martin said the report had stipulated the need for 3,500 hotel rooms to make the project viable.

He added: "St Lucia has 3,500 hotel rooms and is still unable to attract a significant number of scheduled flights while paying a subsidy. International airports are no magic formula for tourist development. You need a good product, efficient marketing and sound conservation of tourist attractions."

According to Martin, business traveller and vacationer services are required to make an international airport viable. There is need to maximise the services of American Eagle through twin-destination marketing.

Commenting on the need for a better airport facility, he expressed support for a submission from ex-BWIA executive Ian Bertrand, Aeronautical Adviser to the Association of Caribbean States, suggesting refurbishment of the Melville Hall airport, with good roads to make possible increased visitor traffic into Dominica.

Whilst Bertrand has not openly supported or attacked the airport project, he has said that Dominica is surrounded by poorly exploited international airports - from Antigua to Trinidad - which are 15-30 minutes away and served by by airlines of the region, North America and Europe. Bertrand also noted that the Caribbean must have the lowest population to international airport ratio in the world, thus casting doubt on the merit of Dominica's international airport.

However, Dominica received unreserved support in late 1998 from the Antigua & Barbuda Trade Minister Hilroy Humphreys who strongly supported the airport project. Humphreys said it has several benefits. It would improve Dominica's airport safety standards in the first instance, and complement Antigua & Barbuda's multi-destination tourism product with its V C Bird International airport serving as a hub. He also emphasised that the Dominica airport project would dramatically increase trade in agricultural products between the two countries, saying that about 45 percent of goods produced in Dominica are sold in Antigua.

In a further twist to this saga, the United Workers' Party lost power in January 2000 to the Dominica Labour Party. The new Prime Minister Rosie Douglas seems much less set on this project, saying that his government would get consultants to look at feasibility plans for the international airport and determine whether it should be undertaken in its present form. He indicated unwillingness to get Dominica heavily into debt and also undertook to get preliminary work carried out for night landing facilities at Melville Hall, probably with private sector investment.

St Vincent Airport

In a turnaround, the government announced in December 2000 that the runway extension project would be put on hold to allow for further consultation. It is unclear when the project would be actively considered again, though prime minister Arnhim Eustace acknowledged that the long term answer to airport improvement required some infrastructural development with the elements of physical feasibility and affordability being two important aspects of the issue. Eustace said that in the meantime the government will continue to work with current and potential air carriers into the region and to the country to continue to improve air access through increased frequency and connections at the gateways (which are presumably Barbados and St Lucia).

The New Democratic St Vincent and the Grenadines Government, led by former prime minister Sir James Mitchell, had been accelerating plans for its airport project. The current airport, E T Joshua (SVD) in Arnos Vale, St Vincent, is small and handles only turboprops. As far back as 1984, the Government made efforts to attract financing for a better airport to bolster tourist arrivals and offshore and other business, but found no interest. The matter is now urgent, says the government, in view of the published plans of American Eagle, a major operator from San Juan, to replace their turboprops by 2001 with regional jets which cannot now land at E T Joshua. A bigger airport is also seen as one that will bring new investment on a large scale into the hotels on the main island, a premier golf Club and the creation of jobs on the Leeward Coast.

In a study commissioned by the Caribbean Development Bank and financed with Canadian funds, Marshal Macklin Monaghan Consultants reported two options in 1998.

The first was the so-called Kitchen Site on the south of the island including Prospect. The estimated cost is US$225m, not including the acquisition of the prime properties in the area. Construction time will be 5-7 years, not including the issues to be raised in acquisition of prime quality land and homes, for which no international financing is available. This airport would accommodate Boeing 747s.

The second was the seaward extension of the current Arnos Vale airport, at a cost of US$50-55m, and which can be completed in 2-3 years. This development would accommodate narrowbody jets such as the Boeing 737-300, the Airbus 321-100, the Embraer Regional Jets and the new Boeing 717.

The Government has decided on the Arnos Vale extension, the cost of which is now reckoned to be US$60m, being US$55m for construction and US$5m to acquire private property. The Kitchen Site was rejected as being too expensive and risky: it was uncertain when jets as large as 747s might arrive, the airlines would have to be paid to use the airport and the debt servicing might be considerable.

However, the opposing Unity Labour Party attempted (unsuccessfully) in early 2000 to halt the project, claiming that the consultant's report found the existing site unsuitable for jet expansion and favoured Argyle as a better site. Former Opposition Leader Vincent Beale also said that a 1994 report by Kocks Consultants GMBH also recommended Argyle as the better alternative to Arnos Vale.

The tendering process could take six months to mid-2000, which means completion of the project by late 2002/early 2003.

Funding would be from Taiwan, the biggest contributor with US$20m, half of which would be in the form of grant aid and the remainder as a soft loan at four per cent interest rate per annum, with contributions from others such as Kuwait and France.

Grand Cayman Airport

The government is thinking of upgrading the Owen Roberts International (GCM) airport in order to attract large aircraft from Europe and South America. The most immediate problem, however, is terminal congestion caused when the airport's design capacity of handling 3-4 simultaneous flights is exceeded, causing the departure lounge to burst at the seams with 500 people all at once on a daily basis. Expansion should not be a problem because the original design of the airport could easily allow this. In the meantime, some possible ways of easing congestion are being considered, one being the addition of an upstairs departure lounge, and one downstairs for arrivals. There is also the need for a proper first class lounge. Under consideration is the need for boardways where planes can dock and to enable passengers, including the handicapped, to can board and disembark without getting wet. In addition to the terminal expansion, there are also plans to extend the runway to the east and west, build a parallel taxiway for safety and expand the apron. Furthermore, there are plans to install a global positioning system more accurate than the one currently used. This GPS would cover the three islands and be used for more than one airstrip at a time.

Cayman Brac Airstrip

The resurfacing of the Gerrad-Smith International (CYB) airstrip is slated to start in February 2001. There are no plans to expand the terminal which is considered adequate.

Little Cayman Airstrip

The Cayman Transportation Ministry is planning to upgrade the 760 metre grass strip of privately-owned Edward Bodden (LYB) with a new 1,220 metre (4,000 feet) runway. It was intended that this would be done by the middle of 2000, but will not happen until at least 200 due to lack of funding. This upgrade, however, is badly needed.

L'Esperance (SFG), St Martin

22JAN02 The airport has been closed from 06JAN02 to 09MAR02 to enable the first phase of an upgrade project to be carried out. The entire project is funded by the General Council of Guadeloupe and is expected to cost more than five million French francs.

This first phase will involve:

While the first phase is going on, all Air Caraïbes flights will be operated out of Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch side until March. Authorities have only allowed landing of small aircraft that do not require long runs for takeoff and landing. Some Air Caraïbes passengers expressed their concern about paying two taxes, one on their tickets and the US$20 departure tax at Juliana Airport. Late last year, Air Caraïbes authorities promised to look into the matter, but to date they haven't issued any statement on the matter. However, they said they might be reintroducing ATR 72-seater aircraft for some flights out of Juliana. Civil Aviation Authorities banned the aircraft from landing at GEsperance after a landing incident last year.

The other phases of work on the airport will include renovation of the present terminal buildings, inclusion of banisters and new lighting on the airstrip to allow night landing.

The French government has plans to build a new terminal building at Grand Case and to extend the runway by 1,500 metres. This news encouraged Air Caraïbes to launch a daily service to San Juan in February 2001.

L'Esperance at Grand Case was closed to commercial traffic in January 2000 for over a month after the General Council of Guadeoupe, under whose portfolio the airport falls, failed to repair or replace the airport's sole fire truck which had been damaged during the passage of Hurricane Lenny in November 1999. The airport was placed in class 4 on the Civil Aviation security scale and degraded to a class 2 after the Council failed to meet a one-month probation period given to them by the Civil Aviation Authorities, in which time it should have replaced the truck.

Strike action by firemen to sensitise authorities on the growing concerns for security at the airport failed to yield any fruits. The firemen were protesting the lack of staff, one fireman to operate the truck most of the time and the poor working conditions they face.

Closure of the airport forced its two commercial operators - Air Guadeloupe and Air Calypso - to shift their operations to the nearby Princess Juliana International (SXM) airport in St Maarten, a move which has sparked comments and displeasure among passengers complaining about the US$20 departure tax they have to pay out of SXM.

The airport's closure has focused some attention on its problems, one being that of management. The Council has allowed the Municipality of St Martin to manage the operations of the airport since 1982, with a renewable protocol agreement the that permitted the Commune to run the airport and control day to day operations. However, a new "Sapin bill" adopted by the French Government says that public works should be allotted only by bids and not through protocol agreements. As a result, management of the airport must now go up for public bids. Mayor Albert Fleming has refused to sign an agreement which would allow the commune only one more year to control the operations at the airport.

Congestion and lack of facilities are other major concerns. The landing and parking areas are not suitable to handle the amount of traffic at peak periods, so when the airport is operational there is major congestion and overcrowding between 0800-1000 and 1600-1800 when there can be up to five aircraft on the ground at any one time. This makes the situation difficult and unsafe to handle. There are also inadequate facilities and lack of space in the ground terminal for the number of persons using the airport.

Traffic has increased substantially during the 1990s, but little investment was done. The last major upgrades were the building of a refueling plant for aircraft in 1986, the entension of the runway from 1,000mx30m to 1,200mx30m in 1987 and the extension of the departure run in 1991 to enable Air Guadeloupe to operate its ATR-42s. The resulting congestion is not only a problem for incumbent airlines and their passengers, but business is being lost as requests by other regional airlines to use Esperance have had to be turned down on due to infrastructure and security concerns.


22JAN03 A new $300 million international airport at Cayo Coco (CCC) has opened. It is the gateway to the trendy beach resort area of Jardines del Rey, an archipelago on the Gulf of Mexico visited by some 165,000 foreign tourists annually. The airport's main runway is 3,000 metres long and is able to handle widebody aircraft from Europe, Canada and Latin America. Since its initial development nine years ago, major Spanish and Canadian companies, in co-ventures with Cuba, have built 10 hotels in this area.

February 2000
Government officials in charge of civil aviation and airport services meeting in Havana, called for increasing the quality of air transportation at all levels in order to cater to growing international tourism. Rogelio Acevedo Gonzalez, head of civil aviation, reported an increase of 16% in airport operations in 1999, compared with 1998. Passenger traffic at Holguín and Ciego de Avila airports increased 30%, Cayo Largo 18% and Havana 11%. Europe surpassed all other areas in originating flights. The carriers with the most scheduled and charter flights to Cuba were AeroCaribe (709), AirTransat (691), Mexicana (720), Air Europe (471), Royal (295) Lacsa (465) and Copa (360).


Construction work on an EC$13.8 million (US$5.1 million), 24,000 square ft passenger terminal building at Newcastle Airport (NCL) in Nevis was scheduled to begin in early August 2000 for completion in July 2001. It will include a departure lounge, VIP lounge, restaurant and will be equipped with modern baggage handling, audio and visual equipment. The government expects the new terminal to help increase arrivals by 20 per cent per annum

Funding has been provided by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and the contractor is Grupo Deyca Internacional of Venezuela.


A new, 430 sq metre terminal is to be constructed to replace the building which has been serving as a temporary terminal. The original terminal of the Juancho Yrausquin (SBH) airport had been destroyed by Hurricanes Georges and Lenny in 1998 and 1999. The Dutch government has approved the NAf. 1.5 million (US$843,000) grant for the project, which should take 11 months.


Curaçao is about to start construction of a new US$15 million radar to monitor air traffic at Hato International (CUR) airport. The radar has to cover a large part of the Caribbean monitoring all traffic movements in the range from Venezuela to the Dominican Republic.

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Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Roger Chung-Wee
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