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2002-08-30 17:39:21

Airport Repairs: $200 Million

By Dominic Duncombe, The Tribune

It will cost about $200 million to repair Nassau International Airport, Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday.

Up to $22 million of that will be used to repair runway 14/32 where cracking and flaking has rendered 3,000feet of the runway unusable.

Estimated costs at the airport doubled after government officials received the alternative assessment report and recommended development plan from Orlando based firm Birk Hillman Consultants Inc.

The master plan dated this month was given out to the newly appointed Airport Authority Board yesterday.

Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin said no airlines have been reluctant to land on the runway but that repairs have to be done.

However, major airlines have expressed concern about the main runway's condition.

No major works have been carried out on the 20 year old runway for about 15 years, apart from remedial repairs done by Associated Asphalt several years ago. But problems still persist.

Ms. Hanna-Martin said the Authority board is exploring all the ways they might generate income for the airport, including some form of user fee or an increase in departure tax.

The prime minister told reporters that The Bahamas needs to make repairs as quickly as possible.

He said the Airport Authority board must be certain that "minimum standards are maintained and work assiduously to make improvements and keep our category one status".

Mr. Christie said his administration wants no lapses in security or standards, especially as it relates to American visitors.

Referring to the section of the airport where travellers pre-clear American customs Prime minister Christie said, "We will not tolerate any degree of slackness."

He said several Family Island airports need attention, including those in Exuma and San Salvador.

He said it is difficult to duplicate facilities in the islands that meet the demands of the private sector and adhere to international laws and anti-terrorist requirements.

Exuma is of special concern as he expects they will have thousands of visitors once the Emerald Bay Resort opens some time next year.

The prime minister said that every hotel owner and operator in the country has expressed concern over airport security and appearances. And Mr. Christie said when flying into New Providence he is always disappointed to see the industrial sector of the country, which contradicts the image we portray internationally. 

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