D’Aguilar: $1 million to fix Abaco airport

The government will have to invest roughly $1 million in order to get Leonard M. Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, fully operational following Hurricane Dorian, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said on Saturday.

“It’s somewhere in the ballpark of about a million [dollars],” D’Aguilar told The Nassau Guardian.

“Certainly by that amount, I think it’s well on the way to fulfilling all the requirements to pass a TSA inspection to say that the airport is up and running.”

The airport was significantly damaged during Hurricane Dorian in early September.

Its runway was badly flooded and its fence was partially destroyed.

“That airport is challenged, first of all, by the fact that it’s on temporary power and on temporary WiFi or internet, and you know those airlines need those things to check people in and conduct their operations,” D’Aguilar said.

“They need the ability to connect to their motherboard, their mother computer; and so, that airport is challenged by that.

“Another thing that happened was all the fencing around the airport needs to be put back in place for two reasons: one, it gives a certain level of security which, of course, the Americans want so no one can just wander on and off the aerodrome. And second of all, you obviously have some wild animals in Abaco that you don’t want to be wandering onto the aerodrome.”

Last week, Algernon Cargill, the government-appointed coordinator of hurricane relief efforts of Abaco, said the government would need at least $5 million to get the airport “back up and running.”

However, D’Aguilar dispelled that claim.

“What the $5 million referred to was the upgrades and the enhancements that we felt were necessary for the Marsh Harbour airport to accommodate for the increased traffic that they were seeing at the airport prior to the 31st of August,” he said.

“So, we had a study done and the amount of $5 million in terms of fixing what was not working, enhancing what was necessary to enhance to accommodate the greater traffic that went there. That was the number that was kind of floated about.”

The minister said the airport is currently operational for domestic flights only.

Asked when it is expected to open for international flights, D’Aguilar said, “In the quickest possible time.”

He added, “In order to get that airport opened, the critical requirement is to make sure that it’s safe and that baggage is being screened, passengers are being screened and obviously there’s no unauthorized access to the aerodrome.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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