The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) confirmed yesterday that it is discussing “a transition of ownership” of Grand Bahama International Airport (GBIA) to the government.
“The GBPA confirms that they, along with their long-term partner in the Grand Bahama International airport, Hutchison Port Holdings, are in ongoing discussions with the government of The Bahamas regarding a transition of ownership to the government,” the authority said in a press release.
In the release, GBPA Acting Chairman Sarah St. George added: “At this time, discussions are still underway. Once the transition is completed, full details will be shared with all Grand Bahamians.
“The current facility is temporary, but a commendable investment to facilitate reopening of the international and domestic airport in the shortest possible timeframe. All parties involved will continue to act in the best long-term interest of Grand Bahama.
“It’s my firm belief that a new, permanent airport will be one of which the nation can be proud and which will serve the needs of this Island as we grow to the next stage of our economic development and storm-resistance.”
In the aftermath of Dorian, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar revealed that government was eyeing the purchase of the airport.
The airport was one of thousands of buildings damaged by the deadly Category 5 Hurricane Dorian in early September.
Earlier this month, D’Aguilar told reporters that government was “not happy” with the state of disrepair the airport remains in, nor with the pace of repairs.
The revelation that at least 11 employees have been recently laid off from the airport added to concerns regarding the airport’s future.
Acknowledging those layoffs, St. George said, “Given the inevitable reduction, due to the hurricane, in the number of international commercial flights into Freeport at the present time we understand the responsibility of the Grand Bahama Airport Company to balance appropriate employment level with current operations.
“It is always with deep regret that such difficult decisions are made and unfortunately a number of employees were impacted, all of whom have been treated with fairness and respect.”
According to the release, “Over the next few weeks, Grand Bahamians can look forward to the return of American Airlines, and the eventual return of other airlines to help bring tourists, winter residents and families back to Grand Bahama.”
Almost five months after the catastrophic storm, parts of Grand Bahama still remain devastated, with potable water still a struggle and some areas lacking electricity.
D’Aguilar has noted that the recovery of the airport is “critical to the economy of Grand Bahama”.