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Family Island Airport Upgrades Need $200m

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

TOURISM and Aviation Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar yesterday lamented the "woefully inadequate" state of many of this nation's Family Island airports, noting that government is now eying roughly $80m upgrades to two of their busiest airports.

Mr D'Aguilar estimated close to $200m is needed now to bring all Family Island airports "up to speed".

Speaking with Tribune Business, Mr D'Aguilar acknowledged that government lacks the necessary resources to carry out the needed upgrades and will have to get "creative". He noted the current model of government-owned and operated Family Island airports was "no longer viable".

Mr D'Aguilar noted a 2014 survey by the Stantec consultancy group had identified the Moss Town airport in Exuma and the North Eleuthera airport as the next two busiest airports after New Providence and Abaco.

The government is now eying upgrades to those two gateways.

"The Stantec report looked at every single airport and identified those airports as the next two busiest airports in terms of passengers and airport movement after Marsh Harbour," he said.

"In 2014, Stantec said an investment of $160m was needed to bring all of the airports up to speed. We think that number is up to $200m. Clearly there isn't sufficient funding in the treasury to do that.

"What was in a deplorable state then is in an even worst state now. Funding for the aviation sector has to be holistically looked at. How are we going to upgrade all these airports when the government doesn't have the resources?"

Of the 28 Family Island airports, 16 cater to international traffic and must meet International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) safety and security requirements for air travel - something he described as an extremely costly undertaking.

Mr D'Aguilar stated: "Exuma and North Eleuthera will likely cost in the region of $40m each. Right off the top, you're talking $80m. If you go to those islands today the terminal buildings they are woefully inadequate. The government really needs to upgrade the airport infrastructure."

Mr D'Aguilar suggested this could be achieved via public private partnership.

"You could grant concessions to a private company to operate the airport. They would have to fix up the airport and in return they get to charge a fee to make a return on investment," Mr D'Aguilar suggested.

"We're going to have to be a little creative. These airports are screaming for investment now and we're going to be coming to Bahamians to say invest in this infrastructure and become owners with the government."

In order to maintain these upgraded facilities Mr D'Aguilar said a passenger facility charge will likely have to be introduced in the family islands, similar to the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA).

"If you're going to put $40m into an airport and want it to be maintained, the customary way to do that is for every one who uses it to pay a fee just as is done with LPIA," he said.

Comments

DDK 1 week, 4 days ago

"The government is now eying upgrades to those two gateways." Put your hands in your pockets Mr, Minister. Unless YOU are treating The Public to airport upgrades, Y'ALL HAVE ALREADY BUST YOUR BUDGET. You start off talking about PPP and then without batting an eye, you will commit the Country to yet another crippling loan. How much of our debt has been paid down to date?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 4 days ago

This flea infested yapping white-haired little poodle is now looking to have government borrow at least $80 million to put into his Lyford Cay neighbour's coffers. We all know Brent Symonette's family owned enterprises are in the business of paving airport runways and that Brent is not the least bit concerned about conflicts of interest. Yep, we all know that track record. Symonette has obviously promised the flea infested yapping little white-haired poodle something big in return. These two Lyford Cay dwellers are clearly scratching each other's back at the expense of Bahamian taxpayers. Yep, Minnis sure can pick 'em!

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tetelestai 1 week, 4 days ago

Shhh, mudda, only the PLP and Brave Davis are corrupt! What nonsense are you spewing, the FNM is beyond reproach, above board and the epitome of transparency, decency and order. sarcasm in copious amounts

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Alex_Charles 1 week, 4 days ago

No more borrowing. You bunch of carpet baggers raised taxes AND raised expenditures JUST LIKE former administration. Now you crying that you need MORE money? GET THE FART outta here!

Start a national lottery or legalize and tax Cannabis. If not then sit small and shut the hell up. Stock running up the debt for christ sakes man!

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TheMadHatter 1 week, 4 days ago

I agree with all the previous commenters. It is my true hope that this yapping does not lead to yet another IDB or otherwise foreign loan. If it does this govt will lose my support.

I don't want my grandchildren to only see US Dollars on Youtube.

Minnis needs to fire any Minister who even utters the word "loan". By the way, the public ought to follow suit. Don't let these banks talk fool into your head, lending at 18% while paying 0.25% for your savings.

Those balloons they tie on them cars in the mall just ain't that valuable. Don't get suckered people, or as we say in the Bahamas "Don't get swing".

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concernedcitizen 1 week, 3 days ago

Did you people commenting not read the article .He is talking about private firms/people putting up the money to modernize the airports and charging fees to get return on their investment as is the case w VSR and LPIA .I think sometimes some of you are so quick to want to sound cute and making up names for people you don,t even read the article

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 3 days ago

Why do Nassau people only think that they should enjoy the fruits of ALL of our taxes???

We get very little in tax returns from our Treasury contributions ...... and Nassau people need to begin investing in their ancestral island roots before they are totally jailed in their Nassau homes.

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John 1 week, 3 days ago

While &200 Millon May sound like a lot of money, spreading it out over s say five year period is only $20 Millon a year. Why does it have to be painful every time government has to spend money to benefit Bahamian people. But they swing the tax axe with no mercy. Airports are essential especially to many Family Islands and the upgrades can be done with prop planning and management of funds. Then two can fly free.

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TheMadHatter 1 week, 3 days ago

No concernedcitizen & john, the government is famous for going over budget. This won't be done by private funds alone - you can bet on that.

And as for "painful every time", i guess 12% ain't tough enough for you.

It's NOT like government is saying "Hey public, guess what? We have an extra 47 million in the Treasury right now and we really have no pending commitments to speak of, so we are thinking of doing 20 mil in upgrades to family island airports? Go to your next FNM Constituency meeting and show your up to date membership card and voice your vote whether you agree."

No. It's definetely not like that.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 2 days ago

Agree with you TheMadHatter. When Bahamians hear the words Public Private Partnership (PPP) from the lips of a politician, they should immediately recognize that such ventures are designed to ensure the Bahamian people get a double-whammy fleecing by both the government and their private sector cronies, whether they be local or foreign. Just look at how the Arawak Port Development PPP has increased the cost of importing goods for Bahamians and how the Nassau International Airport PPP has increased the cost of air travel (ticket taxes) for Bahamians. Our politicians think we are stupid and its high time they feel some serious push back from those of us who are being taxed to death to support their elitist life styles and giveaways to cronies for kickbacks.

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John 1 week, 3 days ago

Mad hatter you have to spend money to make money. Don’t be the jacksss who took his talents and buried them

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John 1 week, 2 days ago

So how come Minnis give De’Aguliar free and clear exemptions on washing machines and them other MPs free and clear exemptions on aircraft parts., but they telling the clothing and shoes merchants that every time they bring in a shipment they must come to the Ministry of Finance and beg for an exemption like Oliver Twist..’Please Ir, I wann some more.’ Why is Minnis dem trying to run Government like a pretty shop. Either items are duty free , like airplane parts, or they are not, like washing machines,..err I mean automobiles.

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DDK 1 week, 1 day ago

Thank you John, a point I have been trying to make but did not spell it out as well as you! I do feel merchants should have an advantage when it comes to importing, but one would think a valid shop licence in the system, or in the case of non-computer savvy civil servants, a photo-copy presented at Customs clearing would suffice.

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John 1 week, 2 days ago

So how much this government borrowed since coming to office? And how much did they collect in VAT?And how much in other taxes? And how much they expect to collect on the rest taxes n web shop (that do not include foreign owned casinos)? Tell D’Aguliar to go wash his bullish!t in his ow duty free machines!

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realitycheck242 1 week, 2 days ago

Stay awake people. There is an up coming share offering in the Nassau Harbour.cruse port.. Empower your self. Dont let the Bay street boys buy everything then complain afterwards.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 2 days ago

Public offering my arse! There's no such thing in the Bahamas. Through contractual arrangements or differing share class issues that favour the select few controlling interests in any public enterprise in the Bahamas, the plebe ordinary (common) shareholders are lucky if they end up with crumbs after considering the time value of their invested money. Good luck cashing out on top!

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John 1 week, 2 days ago

Thought the harbor company was just going to be a subsidiary of the Arawak Port Development Company. Meaning the shareholders of APD (which includes the government) will own the Harbor Company

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John 1 week, 2 days ago

But if they offer new shares make sure grab as much as you can afford. It is a very lucrative business. And most banks still paying 0 interest on fixed deposits.

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TheMadHatter 1 week, 2 days ago

You CANT buy shares in these things. Read the papers when they come out. You have to buy minimum $5,000 and deal with a particular "bank".

Amazing how so many people eat corned beef every year, yet every time the govt promises steak they jump up and down and celebrate - only to eat corned beef again.

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BahamaPundit 1 week, 2 days ago

This FNM government is "by far" the most dissapointing political experience I have had to date. I have never seen such "two faced" trickery in my life! I may never vote again. They refuse to do what we put them in power to do: Freedom of Information Act; Term Limits; Campaign Finance Reform; Prosecution of Fraudulent BOB Loans. It appears to me that the FNM has decided to go out in flames. Rather than try to save the Bahamas sinking ship, that we elected them to do, they have decided to further char the remains left by the PLP. If we were a more patriotic country, these "two timers" would be tarred and feathered and beaten out of town as enemies of the state!

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DDK 1 week, 1 day ago

Spot on! I'll take one of those brushes and a bag of feathers!

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TheMadHatter 1 week, 1 day ago

Not voting would make sense, if the Constitution said that if less than 70% of voting age persons turn out to vote (counting unregistered also) then the election is void. The GG and COP stay in power until another election is held in 3 months.

Should turnout again be below 70% then the next person under the GG becomes GG and the next person under the COP becomes COP and election is set for 3 months later.

Wash, rinse, and repeat - like the shampoo bottle says - all the way down to the most recent Corporal and the receptionist at Government House if necessary.

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BahamaPundit 1 week, 1 day ago

Is there such a thing as a Bahamian statesman? A man or woman that looks out for the interests of the country of the Bahamas, instead of stuffing his own wallet or promoting a pro party, racial or classist ideology? I'm starting to doubt such a thing is possible.

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DDK 1 week, 1 day ago

Am ombudsman or ombudswoman? Does such a creature exist in The Bahamas?

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TheMadHatter 1 week, 1 day ago

TheMadHatter is the only true statesman concerned for ALL Bahamians rich or poor, black or white except for communists and voodoo dem.

I will be running for PM in the next election and expect to win at least 76.3 percent of the vote (according to current polling). :-)

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