Government has gone back to the drawing board on its proposed Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to run the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) and will put out tenders for a new management contract in late April, according to Tourism and International Transport Minister Senator Lisa Cummins.
Declaring that the partnership deal is being reviewed so it remains attractive for the “new realities” of the aviation industry given the impact of the global pandemic on international travel, Senator Cummins suggested a PPP for the state-owned airport has taken on renewed importance.
She said: “We remain focused on the GAIA PPP to mobilise private sector investment and expertise; redevelop and upgrade the infrastructure and facilitate the redesign of the airport for the new realities of the aviation industry. This, while strategically retaining ownership of our airport.”
Following the pre-qualification stage, which ended with the public announcement of 13 shortlisted bidders in August last year, a decision was made to review the details of how the PPP would work, given the impact of the pandemic, before issuing the Request for Proposals.
Senator Cummins said: “The increased transmission of the coronavirus, with ‘second waves’ in Barbados’ main tourism source markets, the emergence of new variants, and the additional restrictions implemented globally and locally have delayed the PPP process.
“A detailed review of the PPP is underway, with consultations among GAIA Inc., Government and its advisors, to ensure a viable and attractive transaction for all parties. Once the revisions are approved, it is expected that GAIA Inc. will launch the tender process for the shortlisted bidders at the end of April 2021.”
“Our goal is to ensure that the airport is well-positioned not only for today but for future growth, as we seek to attract visitors back to our shores, taking the necessary measures to do so safely.”
“The recommendations to restructure the transaction for the successful tender of the PPP will help the Government realise its goal of positioning GAIA as the airport of choice within the region; able to deliver service quality standards in line with international best practices.
Senator Cummins outlined the Government’s dual-track of improving the country’s competitiveness and ensuring Barbados’ civil aviation authority complies with International Civil Aviation Organisation safety standards to rise from category two to category one status with the US Federal Aviation Administration.
The coveted category one status under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment would enable Barbados’ flag carriers to operate into the US or codeshare with American carriers.
The international transport minister said: “Beyond this important PPP process, we are also working on a parallel track to develop the aviation sector and the regulatory framework that will lead us to Category One status. GAIA Inc. and our partnerships with globally experienced concessionaires will be an important anchor for that.”
Through the PPP, Government will retain ownership of the infrastructure, while the airport operator would be granted a concession to expand, operate and maintain the facility until the end of the lease. In the case of the airport, the partnership is expected to last up to 30 years.
The final decision by GAIA Inc. and the Government on which operator will be awarded the contract will be based on the outcome of the evaluation of bids against the criteria. (BT/BGIS)