After more than a year-long delay, officials are eying the end of April for the opening of the Marsh Harbour International Airport, Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin said on March 17.
The airport terminal, which expected to cost $27million, was slated to open in October 2012; however due to numerous setbacks and technical issues the opening had been delayed until now.
As the airport contractor FES Construction completes final minor works the Airport Authority has already begun work to start moving staff and airlines to the new terminal and Mrs. Hanna-Martin said that by the ‘end of April’ all systems will be ready to go.
“Marsh Harbour Airport has had long standing issues,” she said, “But we are winding down and are in the final stages. The wirings and equipment are being laid down. Forty people are being trained in a four week program. CCTV is being installed.
“I have been informed by the Ministry of Works that by the end of April all systems will be ready to go. This has been a learning curve for us. We sought to do our best, but the architect initially hired did not specialize in airports; next time we’ll use someone with experience in this area,” she said.
Back in December of 2012, the Minister explained to Parliament that in order to have the airport fully operational, the Christie administration would need to spend an additional $11,930,000. With the hike, the airport comes up at a total cost of nearly $40 million.
Included in the estimate was a $6 million run way extension, $3.8 million to build a freight building, $230,000 for that building’s architectural fees and $1.9 million in other architectural fees.
Though the architectural plans for the freight building were passed late 2013 no contract is known to have been granted for works to begin, and presently the runway extension appears to be a future consideration. The runway extension would have allowed the larger commercial airlines to land at the airport; however, the runway is adequate for regional jet-liners.
She told Parliamentarians that the additional high fees to have the airport opened is the result of a failure to plan coupled with ‘ad-hoc decisions’.
“Officials have also determined,” she said, “that in planning the airport there were no measures to ensure an optimization of space for future expansion efforts. Neither was there proper consultation on how the facility would reach maximum energy efficiency,” Mrs. Hanna-Martin said.
When ground was broken on September 1, 2011, it was said by the Ingraham administration that in 10 months the facility would be completed and ready for use.