DPM: ‘Great news’ on GB airport imminent
Cooper to announce start date of redevelopment project
Grand Bahamians can expect a “big announcement” on the way forward for Grand Bahama International Airport at the upcoming Grand Bahama Business Outlook on March 16, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper, who is the featured speaker at this year’s edition of the annual business meeting.
When contacted by Grand Bahama News for an update on negotiations Cooper said, “Grand Bahama residents can look forward to great news about their airport at the Business Outlook.”
Without disclosing many details, he said, “The islanders will hear of a start date for the Grand Bahama International Airport’s development.”
Cooper also did not reveal the dollar amount of the project.
In December 2022, while on Grand Bahama for the return of Sunwing’s weekly flight to the island, he promised there would be word soon.
“We expect to break ground on the Grand Bahama International Airport in the first quarter of 2023,” he said.
“So, I am optimistic … you talk about vendor opportunities, training, and development; it is all incremental. It is about the transition to the new economy for Grand Bahama.”
In 2019, the airport was damaged to non-operational status, due to flooding from Hurricane Dorian.
The owners at the time, Grand Bahama Port Authority and Hutchison Whampoa, were not willing to invest in restoring or redeveloping the facility, and the government purchased the airport for $1, also taking on its expenses.
After the Progressive Liberal Party was elected to office in September 2021, the government moved to make repairs at the airport, after coming under heavy fire over the conditions at the facility.
Since then, the government has been seeking a public-private partnership (PPP) for the facility.
Under a PPP, the government will continue to own the airport, however, private partners will be granted a concession and lease.
In his recent pre-mid-year budget economic briefing, Cooper referred to progress on the airport as part of an announcement concerning the government’s intention to redevelop several airports on Family Islands.
“We have reached an agreement on the Grand Bahama International Airport. Essentially, we’re just tying up loose ends in that matter and there will be significant movement there shortly,” said Cooper.
Cooper believes the investors’ interest in the country’s airports infrastructural projects is an indication of the global confidence in The Bahamas as a destination.
The intensive, all-day annual business meeting will be a hybrid format with both in-person and online attendance, beginning at 8:45 a.m.