Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday that he is optimistic repairs to the runway and taxiway at Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) will be completed in time for the busy Thanksgiving season.
Bahamas Hot Mix Company Ltd. (BHM) began work on the repairs, priced at $20 million, in June.
“We’re hoping that it’s completed before Thanksgiving. I mean obviously the Lynden Pindling airport is operating on a single runway and there is no redundancy in place right now. We have in place the necessary infrastructure and equipment to make sure that should an incident happen on the runway we can clear it and get it back in operation as quickly as possible. As you would have seen, I believe it was last week, there was an incident and within 90 minutes the plane was removed and the airport was back in operation,” D’Aguilar told reporters before the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Churchill Building yesterday.
“So, the airport is being operated very smoothly, very few delays, but obviously as Thanksgiving approaches we start to get a little bit nervous because obviously the load will increase, and we would like the runway operational by then. We’ve been assured that it will be, but weather delays, equipment failures, you know the usual stuff that could possibly bring about a delay come into play, but we’re optimistic right now.”
On August 10, a private jet ran off the runway at LPIA, prompting the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) to close the airport for an hour and a half.
In addition to repaving the runway and taxiway, BHM is also installing runway end safety areas (RESAs), which would reduce the risk of damage to aircrafts that overrun the runways, as well as new LED approach lights to assist pilots during low visibility operations.
BHM outbid four international and two Bahamian firms in securing the contract.
“It’s important to note that the entire process was put out to a competitive bid process and I am advised that the company that won the bid did so at a considerable cost savings or significantly lower than the other bidders; also that the company that won the bid was a Bahamian company and all the others were foreign,” D’Aguilar said.
BHM has completed runway projects at the Marsh Harbour airport in 2006, Norman’s Cay airport in 2013, Bimini airport in 2015, Staniel Cay airport in 2015, Hog Cay airport in 2016 and the Grand Bahama International Airport in 2016.