Government has inked an agreement to prepare the national airport it owns for its biggest expansion in a decade.
Minister of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds revealed today the area of the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) at Seawell was set to be increased by 27 000 square feet, and accomodate a new air traffic complex.
The upgrades are to be financed by an investor in a public/private sector partnership, yet to be found, but who would be backed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an investment and advisory arm of the World Bank Group.
As the state-owned airport’s board chairman and the financier signed a financial advisory services agreement at Government Headquarters, with Minister Symmonds expressing hope that an investment partner would be identified within a year.
He said the concession granted would be approximately 25 to 30 years.
“We are looking at the expansion of the terminal building, the addition of five jet bridges, the relocation and construction of a new air traffic complex and the modernisation of the airport’s systems and infrastructure,” the Minister said.
Regional vice-president of the IFC’s Latin America, Caribbean Europe and Central Asia division, Georgina Baker, said the public/private partnership meant the private sector would be responsible for undertaking the required capital works, financing operations and maintenance of the airport under a long term contract obligation.
She said the signing of the agreement would allow the IFC and the airport to press ahead with diagnostic work, finalising the investment structure and design for the airport deal.
Baker said the work would include technical, legal, financial and environmental and social due diligence.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley also maintained that Government had decided to retain ownership of the airport.
She said: “We have been in discussions with the IFC in order to be able to see what we could do with the urgent injection of capital and opportunities for joint ventures with the GAIA.
“After much discussion we came to the view that the Government would retain ownership of the GAIA.
“We will eventually do a divestment partially of some limited shares to the National Insurance Scheme and to the workers of the airport, but that without prejudice to that and the retention of the majority ownership of the asset that we would work to do a long term concession on the airport because it is urgently in need of major capital refurbishment,.”
The Prime Minister said she was not satisfied that the airport was extracting the greatest possible value.
GAIA chairman Vic Fernandes, who signed the agreement, said there were several other projects planned for the airport including the repaving of the runway; the expansion of the regional lounge and the addition of new scanners and 32 border entry kiosks.