At six o-clock in the morning on May 27, 2014, the new Leonard M Thompson International Airport opened its doors and just after seven the first passengers disembarking from Bahamasair walked into the new building and into history.
The $30 million terminal and air traffic control and crash rescue buildings, which began construction in September of 2011 enjoyed a soft opening that brought to a close the long saga of delays and has finally given Abaconians an airport terminal they can be proud of.
Despite a lack of belief by many that the airport terminal would open (The Abaconian’s online poll showed over 70% of readers did not believe it would open this day) residents and guests alike were very proud and impressed. Bobby Jones, Assistant Airport Manager, said “This is a good day for Abaco having realized the existence of a brand new airport terminal that will service not only Abaconians but persons travelling to Abaco.”
He said that “this morning all security personnel arrived on time and when Bahamasair and Sky Bahamas arrived all passengers were processed efficiently.”
“What we are looking forward to now is greater airlift to Abaco bringing more revenue to the community and spur more business in the community,” Mr. Jones said.
While airport personnel work out the kinks in operations on their first day government officials are expected in to tour the airport on Wednesday, May 28 and see it in operation.
Michael Walsh, Regional Manager for Silver Airways, said “We’re very excited; we’ve been waiting a long time to get into a prestigious building.”
He said “When a community puts together a terminal like this we see that they mean business and that they want us to come in and they are making it easier for potential growth. We look forward to operating smoothly here in the peak season.”
The terminal concourse was abuzz with excited guests sharing smiles and talking about how nice the terminal building looks. Locals drove up to the terminal building to see for themselves and some even ventured inside.
Major Nelson from Calabasas, California said this is his second trip to Abaco and that “this new terminal is just first class; outstanding. Absolutely Beautiful”
Tina from Maryland said “it was exciting to be on the first international flight to the new terminal. It’s long awaited and quite impressive.”
OC Cornish, local taxi driver, said that the terminal “building is beautiful” and it is exciting to see it operate.
Carl, an Abaco resident, said “it’s a beautiful building and something Abaco can be proud of.”
A couple visiting from Fort Lauderdale who came in through the old terminal were very impressed and said the “new terminal wonderful, bright and cheery.”
While the terminal is now open the shop areas have not yet been filled and only one check in section is fully in use. It is expected that the shop spaces will be filled in the coming months and that the domestic check in area put to use.
The parking area is open and free for the moment, but they are expected to begin charging parking fees soon for both short and long-term parking.
Despite the few items that are not complete, the sentiment among Abaconians is clear; they are thankful for a product they can finally be proud of.