Closed for more than five years, one of a handful of the final resting places of the iconic supersonic passenger jet, Concorde is set to reopen – as a terminal for cruise ship passengers leaving the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA), airport officials said.
The decision was announced Friday, on the 20th anniversary of British Airways Concorde Alpha Echo’s final landing here when the British-French airliners went into the history books.
The plane was housed in a specially built hangar, home to the Concorde Experience Barbados with a private firm operating the aviation museum on the grounds of the state-owned airport. Now, the hangar is to be repurposed into the Concorde Terminal, a secured departure area for passengers.
The airport suggested the move is intended to end the peak-time congestion in the departure terminal as passengers from the island’s burgeoning air-to-sea business jostle with the thousands of others bound for regular inter-island and international flights.
In a statement, GAIA Inc said: “The winter season historically carries heightened passenger traffic due to the air-to-sea market. This season is forecasted to be one of the busiest for air-to-sea travellers. The direct impact of such growth is an overutilised main terminal. The use of the new Concorde Terminal is poised to significantly ease congestion at our main terminal, Terminal One, offering a more streamlined and comfortable experience for travellers in both areas.”
The newly designated Concorde Terminal is set to feature upgraded seating, enhanced security screening, a commercial area, and other amenities to function as a fully operational pre-boarding area for specific flights, the statement added.
The airport said the repurposing initiative aligns with a commitment to enhancing the overall travel experience in Barbados “as we enjoy our position as a preferred destination”.
The Concorde first came to Barbados in 1977 to return Queen Elizabeth to England during the former monarch of Barbados’ visit. Barbados joined London, Paris and New York as one of only four destinations for the sound barrier-breaking jet aircraft’s regular service.
It ferried passengers between London Heathrow and Grantley Adams on a four-hour trip. “Alpha Echo”, the 12th Concorde built, flew the London-Barbados route and returned every Saturday.
Outside of France and the UK, Barbados is one of only four locations for the retired jets in the Americas, including the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum outside Washington DC, and aviation museums in New York and Seattle. (BT)