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DPM says more layoffs to come at GB airport

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said “it’s likely” there will be more layoffs at Grand Bahama International Airport (GBIA) in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.

“So, unfortunately, there have been some layoffs at the airport in Grand Bahama and it’s likely that there may be some more,” Turnquest said on Wednesday.

“As you know, the flight volume into Grand Bahama [has] dropped off since the hurricane.”

Director of Labour John Pinder recently said that at least 11 employees had been laid off at the airport.

He said the layoffs happened the previous week.

Turnquest, who is the East Grand Bahama MP, told The Nassau Guardian that the government is “very concerned” for the individuals who have been laid off.

“[W]e’re working hard to try and find alternatives for them,” he said.

“Of course, the unemployment program is available for them in the initial phase and then we’ll try and figure out how we’re able to provide other accommodations for them during this period that we get that airport back up and going.”

The airport is owned by Hutchison Ports and the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA).

It was one of thousands of buildings damaged by the deadly Category 5 storm in last September.

Two months after Dorian, Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said the government was eyeing the purchase of the airport.

On Wednesday, Turnquest said, “We hope — and the government is working very hard — to rebuild the capacity, rebuild the flights into the island, which will then hopefully spur the redevelopment of the airport itself.

“As has been said, the government is having discussions with Hutchison about the future of the airport and with the Grand Bahama Port Authority because we do know that it is a critical piece of infrastructure.

“As we talk about rebuilding the tourism infrastructure in Grand Bahama, we need that airport and so we’ll certainly be doing whatever we can to ensure that it is restored as quickly as possible and that we rebuild a resilient or restore a resilient airport so that we don’t have to go through this again.”

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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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