Airport ‘bumpy’ problem continues as government seeks developers

Amid continuing appeals from Grand Bahama residents for the government to expedite repairs to the island’s only operational airport, newly appointed Chairman of the Freeport Airport Development (FAD) Company, Terra Raming, said: Work is being done to improve the condition of the facility.

Rahming was answering questions from . grand bahama news Regarding the condition of the tarmac and runway at Grand Bahama International Airport (GBIA), after frequent travelers expressed concern about a “bumpy, pothole” ride in and out of Grand Bahama.

“The contract to resurface part of the runway was signed prior to this new board appointment,” she said.

“We know the project has been approved, so it should be completed within a few days,” Rahming added.

She had quoted a 10-day timeframe, but the completed resurfacing project could be extended as Hurricane Fiona impacted weather conditions last week.

She could not provide details on which portion of the 11,000-foot runway will be resurfaced, but Rahming assured that work has begun.

Meanwhile, Rahming said FAD members have met twice since being appointed in August and are carrying out their mandate to rehabilitate the domestic terminal set by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investment and Aviation Chester Cooper. said to have started.

She said the installation of modular offices for airport employees, including customs and immigration officers, should be completed this week.

“Of course, these are just temporary fixes that make the travel experience a little more pleasant, and will also have a positive impact on revenue streams as the government signs PPPs (Public Private Partnerships) for airport redevelopment. said Rahming. .

Despite constant cries from residents calling for urgent repairs at the airport, she said a new commission was on the job.

Speaking to the media ahead of last week’s cabinet meeting, Cooper said there were two potential “credible funded” bidders for the development of GBIA.

“They are looking into the possibility of entering into a PPP to design, build, finance and manage the Grand Bahama International Airport,” he said.

“This is going to be a world-class airport. This process will take time to get right, so we want to make sure we select a bidder who has the vision and resources, understands resilience and can execute quickly.” thinking about.

“Therefore, we expect the Board to make a final selection in the coming weeks, after which it will be available to the public.”

In the meantime, Cooper added that preliminary repairs and cleanups will continue at GBIA.

In 2019, storm surges of up to 17 feet from Hurricane Dorian left Freeport’s domestic and international terminals in a state of disrepair, as well as gaping holes in the tarmac and severely cracked asphalt. did.

Last week, environmental activist Joseph Darvill said taxiing a plane to an airport tarmac was like riding an old truck over a bumpy dirt road.

“Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper, Minister of Tourism, please do whatever you can to restore some dignity to this part of the Commonwealth by making travel to and from this island an experience again.” he pleaded.

“Fortunately, the runway is acceptable, but for us Bahamians and international travelers, traveling in and out of the ‘so-called’ Grand Bahama International Airport is far from the greatest disgrace.”

Darvill added: Not just Bahamians, our visitors miss it even more. ”

In February, the US government began the process of suspending pre-clearance at GBIA, citing delays in airport reconstruction.

Darvill believes the current state of the airport is the main reason redevelopment of the island has stalled.

Magnus Arnebek, general manager of the Pelican Bay Hotel, said the airport’s runway and tarmac were in poor condition.

“It needs to be fixed before it becomes a really serious safety issue,” he added.

“We regret that the government has taken over a property that has been neglected for many years by its previous owner. With the runway submerged three or four times, you will wonder where the insurance money went.”

Last month, private pilot Ricky Mannings complained about the condition of the tarmac and runway.

“There are still holes in the runways and taxiways,” Mannings said.

He believes the situation at the major ports of entry needs to be addressed with more urgency if the island is to recover. Airport ‘bumpy’ problem continues as government seeks developers

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