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Govt hopes to open Abaco airport to international flights on Dec. 1

The government hopes to have work done at the Marsh Harbour International Airport to allow for international flights by December 1, Ministry of Works Senior Family Island Engineer David Cox said.

That fact was revealed on Friday afternoon as a delegation led by Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister toured ongoing work on the island.

However, a source with knowledge on the matter told The Nassau Guardian that deadline will likely not be met.

Officials say perimeter fencing is a major requirement for getting the green light from the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

“There’s over 23,000 feet of fencing to be done, and so far, we’ve done about 40 percent of that,” Cox said.

“We’re hoping that this work will be completed by December 1.”

Cox said that they thought they had already met the requirements when they fenced in the apron, but were later told more work had to be done to bring the facility up to standard.

“The airport was supposed to be back up and running right now, and we were given initial requirements that if they fenced the apron, it would have been up and running,” he said.

“We’ve fenced the apron, but the TSA and other international airlines have come back and said that the actual fencing around the whole perimeter needs to be done before they will bring in flights. So, we’re hoping that we’ll be open sometime in the next couple of weeks.”

Bahamas Striping Group of Companies (BSGC) was awarded the contract for the fencing.

BSGC Managing Director Allen Albury said the company is ramping up its efforts to try to meet the deadline.

“In terms of ramping up, we’re bringing in an additional crew,” he said.

“We have a number of installers that are part of the team that are locals. We’ve hired a number of local Abaconians that were here on the island that have experience with fence installation. And we’re quite confident that we’re going to be 100 percent completed and ready for the opening and recertification of the airport December 1.”

In addition to the fencing, the airport also needs other major work to meet international standards including signage painting and mold remediation in the terminal.

Airport Authority Family Island Division Senior Superintendent Niko Davis said the mold remediation could take up to 10 days. However, the authority was still making a decision on which company will get the contract for the remediation process.

“The mold situation, as you can see if you look at the roof, we had some sheeting that was blown off during the hurricane,” Davis said.

“And because we had the building locked down, mold was able to build up in certain areas. So, we’re trying to get that remediated as quickly as possible.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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