No loan needed for Brac airport upgrade, says CIAA
(CNS): The expansion of the Cayman Brac airport terminal will be funded by the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA), which will not need a loan for the project, according to the authority’s CEO, Jeremy Jackson. Phase One, which will roughly double the size of the airport building, will include renovations of the existing facility as well as the expansion to the east side. Phase Two, which is a planned expansion on the west side of the existing terminal building, will be built at a later date when the CIAA has the funds to do it. The cost of Phase One, Jackson said, would not be revealed until after the tendering process was complete, and this will be going to the Central Tenders Committee “shortly”. (Photo: L-R Jeremy Jackson and CIAA board chair Dick Arch)
However, he said that the enabling works should commence sometime in August.
Critically, the first phase of the upgrade of the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport (CKIA), as it is now called following a renaming ceremony on Saturday, will include hold baggage screening equipment, which will enable the airport to facilitate direct flights to the US, since this is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirement. Currently, the airport has direct flights arriving from Miami but passengers travelling from the Brac to the US must stop at Grand Cayman, which adds an extra flight and sometimes many hours to the journey.
Once Phase One of the project is complete, the airport will have a larger check-in and ticketing counter, enhanced passenger and baggage screening facilities and outgoing immigration counters. The departure lounge will also be expanded to create additional retail space and a larger restaurant. There will be additional office space for Cayman Airways and for the airport’s Security Unit, which will also have CCTV security. For the first time, the Brac airport will have a VIP lounge, Jackson told CNS.
Phase two of the project will see enhancements to the arrivals hall (immigration and customs areas) as well as the addition of space for the Public Health and Agriculture departments.
As the terminal facility is to remain operational during the construction phase, the CIAA says that efforts will be made to carry out the work with minimal interruption to passenger processing. The authority says there will be some temporary relocation of functions to allow for refurbishments to be carried out on the existing facility.
At Saturday’s renaming ceremony, Jackson said the expansion project would undoubtedly provide a much-needed boost to the Brac’s economy. “We are confident that the ability to attract direct international flights, without the stopover in Grand Cayman, will provide even greater opportunities for local businesses in the years ahead. The CIAA looks forward to playing its role in the continued economic development of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman,” he said.
In his address at Saturday’s ceremony, Premier and Tourism Minister McKeeva Bush also noted that in the event of an interruption to operations to Grand Cayman’s Owen Roberts Airport because of a natural disaster or an aircraft accident, as an international airport, the Brac’s CKIA would serve as a lifeline for the Cayman Islands.
The premier said the airport, which was being renamed for “a son of Cayman Brac”, the late Captain Charles Kirkconnell, who had served as an elected representative for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman for three consecutive terms from 1976 to 1988 and had also served on the Executive Council (now called Cabinet).
He recalled how the Brac’s Gerrard-Smith Airport had been officially opened during the royal visit of Princess Alexandra in 1988. He said that Captain Charles, as well and his permanent secretary at the time, Sammy Jackson, who was present at Saturday’s event, had been instrumental in the building of the airport and it was fitting, given all of his valuable contributions to the islands, that the airport should be renamed in his honour.
As two past Cayman Islands commissioners, Andrew Gerrard and Ivor Smith, for whom the airport was previously named, were consigned to the history books, Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly explained how the renaming would mean that Captain Charles would be remembered whenever people arrived on the Brac. He could “easily be forgotten if we don’t recognize those nation builders,” she said.
In his vote of thanks, CIAA Chairman Richard “Dick” Arch recognized the efforts of the CIAA’s Project Manager Nicholas Johnson, the lead architect Donal McGrath of BDCL Architects, BCQS Quantity Surveyors, District Commissioner Ernie Scott, and various other government agencies, as well as other individuals who had made significant contributions to the project thus far.
Arch expressed his confidence that the people of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman would be proud of their enhanced terminal when the expansion concludes in 2013.
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