|The Bahamas Investor Magazine
January 21, 2010
January 21, 2010
In the spring of 2011, all operations at the current US terminal at Lynden Pindling International Airport will transfer over to the new US Departures Terminal, marking the completion of stage one of the airport’s $409.5 million redevelopment project.
Even before we broke ground in July 2009, every detail about the new facility was thought of–from the colour of the tiles in the washrooms to light fittings in the main check-in terminal. But there is still a lot of work to do. As the walls and roof go up over the next few months, we are taking steps to prepare for the state-of-the-art infrastructure including a $10 million baggage system in the first phase. We are currently training our staff to manage and operate the new facility at a world-class level.
In September 2009, our Operational Readiness team jumped into action, meeting with airport partners in Vancouver and Cyprus to ensure that everything and everybody is up to the task when we open the new terminal in less than 15 months. And I will go on record now as saying that on the opening day, the roof won’t leak and the baggage system will be fully operational.
Construction is still ongoing, with the prime contractor working to deliver on the $80 million contract, using local subcontractors to supply approximately 75 per cent of the labour. We are already in the process of selecting retail and food and beverage service providers for the new terminal from among a tough field of competition. All of the retail and food and beverage options must be 100 per cent Bahamian-owned. Our latest offerings in the current facilities have already added more than 100 new jobs at the airport. We hope that the new facility will provide the best amenities available to the estimated 3.2 million visitors travelling through our airport annually.
With stage one well underway, the designs for the two remaining stages are 99 per cent complete. The overall redevelopment is on target to be completed by the 2013 deadline. Despite the economic downturn of the last year, our finances remain solid for the three stages. Breaking the project down into three distinct phases allows us to stop construction, if necessary, without disruption to services, but that is a highly unlikely scenario.
Projections estimate an average of 3-3.5 per cent rise in passenger numbers each year until 2025, and the airport will easily be able to accommodate the predicted increase as well as allowing easy and affordable expansion at any point in the future.
This year we will be conducting a study to determine what will be needed if passenger numbers increase beyond that point. All high-volume airports need parallel runways so airplanes can take off and land independently. The study will tell us when and if we will need an additional runway. But that is a long way off, as our current passenger volume would have to double for there to be any need for further expansion beyond the current redevelopment.
A question that is at the forefront of everybody’s mind is how much will this redevelopment add to the cost of a plane ticket. There will likely be an increase with the completion of stage one and the beginning of the subsequent construction, but we aim to keep our total airport fees within about 10 per cent of the average for the Caribbean region. I am a firm believer in “you get what you pay for,” and I believe our customers will realize the value they are getting when they experience the new terminals and efficient services at the redeveloped Lynden Pindling International Airport.
Craig Richmond is the chief executive officer of Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD), which has a 30-year contract to manage, maintain, operate and develop the Lynden Pindling International Airport. A former Canadian Air Force fighter pilot, Richmond was the vice president of Airport Operations at the Vancouver International Airport Authority before coming to The Bahamas in 2006.