TOURISM, Investments and Aviation Minister Chester Cooper.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
TOURISM, Investments and Aviation Minister Chester Cooper said the government is “keenly focused” on the Grand Bahama International Airport, telling Parliament they hope to complete the first phase of redeveloping GBIA by January 2025.
Mr Cooper, while speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday, said the “world class” facility, once completed, will increase airlift to the island, which he said is key to the island’s economic recovery.
“You would recall last month, we launched phase one of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Programme to design, build, finance, operate and maintain several airports throughout The Bahamas and the Grand Bahama International Airport is first on the agenda,” Mr Cooper said yesterday.
“We are seeking experienced and qualified private sector partners for the redevelopment of the Grand Bahama International Airport, with the objective of revitalising Grand Bahama’s economy.
“We launched this first phase on the Department of Aviation’s website and asked interested entities to submit Requests for Pre-qualifications and a project information Memorandum for the Grand Bahama International Airport closing yesterday, May 15. I am advised that there are several interested parties, however, a further statement will be made in due course. It is our undertaking to complete the first phase of a world-class airport by Jan 1, 2025.”
The airport in Grand Bahama was destroyed by Hurricane Dorian in September 2019.
During that time, it was privately owned and operated by the Freeport Harbour Company, which is part of Hutchison Port Holdings of Hutchison Whampoa Group.
Under the Minnis administration, the government purchased it in April 2021 for $1, with plans to redevelop the airport under a PPP.
However, the government also paid-out around $1m as its 50 percent share of the redundancy pay and associated benefits received by GBIA staff.
According to Mr Cooper, plans are already underway to improve working conditions at the airport.
“Preliminary works will begin at the airport next week under the direction of the Airport Authority and the Ministry for Grand Bahama as it relates to new generators, new elevators, repairs to the air traffic control tower and demolition of certain derelict buildings,” the deputy prime minister added.
“We will also undertake to make remedial repairs to the domestic building to remove workers out of the unfit working conditions that they have been subjected to since Hurricane Dorian. That’s right, stacked in a trailer, using out houses and porta potties, two years after Hurricane Dorian, under the Minnis Administration. We promised the people of Grand Bahama we would do better. We promised to deliver for them a world-class airport and that is what we are doing.”
The news comes days after the Davis administration announced Electra America Hospitality Group as the new buyer for the Grand Lucayan resort, which was purchased under the Minnis administration in 2018.
The US conglomerate is offering $100m to purchase the Grand Lucaya. They also plan to invest $300m to renovate and redevelop the property.