Officials broke ground on New Bight International Airport in Cat Island yesterday with Prime Minister Philip Davis saying he hopes the airport marks the return of foreign air service into the island.
“As a tier two airport, it will serve as a port of entry with customs and immigration services, and will be equipped with a state-of-the-art fire station,” said Davis, the island’s member of Parliament.
“The design is modern and sustainable, featuring solar panels, smart lighting and rain water collection. Our history and culture will be on full display as well, with regatta-inspired decorations and multiple opportunities for local entrepreneurs to exhibit their products.”
Davis recalled, “Between 2002 and 2007, we had at least three foreign airlines flying direct from the United States here. That ceased after 2007 and we are hoping to recapture that interest.”
Davis told reporters the airport will cost between $8 million and $10 million and will be completed within 18 months to two years.
“What we are building up here in Cat Island is fully exciting, and it is an important part of a broader push to support the vitality of all of our family of islands,” he said.
“At the opening of the new passport office in January, I made a promise. I said construction on a new airport would start by May of this year. Here we are in March with shovels ready to go in the ground.”
Davis said, “The new airport is a very big and very important investment in the people and future of this special island.
“A new airport, my friends, means much more than increased travel capacity for Cat Island.
“The infrastructural upgrade promises to attract new investment, revitalize old industries and inspire new ones.
“I hope new opportunities here will mean more of our young people staying home and building their lives here. I believe these same new opportunities will act as an incentive for native Cat Islanders to return home.”
The prime minister said the new airport is part of a larger plan for revitalization.
“Improvements to this island’s roadways are right around the corner,” he said.
“The contract to pave 70 miles of the main road will go to Cabinet for signing next week, after which work will commence immediately.
“At the peak of the work, many Cat Islanders here will be employed to help in the construction of the works here. The contractor has been directed and mandated to ensure that all resources available in Cat Island should be first utilized before you bring anymore in. He has that direct instruction.”
In February, tourism officials announced a bidding process for 14 Family Island airports through a public-private partnership (PPP).
The airports include four on Exuma, three airports on Abaco, three on Eleuthera, the Cat Island New Bight International Airport, the Long Island International Airport, the Congo Town Airport in South Andros and the San Salvador International Airport.
“We are also moving to complete our clinics,” Davis also announced, referring to clinics on Cat Island.
“We’re not going to talk about the past. We are only going to look forward. The clinics were well on their way and they had no action for the last four or five years. Action is about to start very soon on our clinics.
“The Bahamas is not just New Providence, and I keep reminding my ministers that. We are working hard to revitalize our Family Islands.
“As a Family Island product, I appreciate the challenges and we are going to ensure that they are not left out.”
Davis added, “There are promising new investments in a number of islands and there will be one here in Cat Island soon. I don’t want to announce it yet, but I’ll be here next week again. I don’t like to announce things. I like to get things done.
“Things are happening in Exuma, Long Island, the Abacos, and each of our islands ought to be treated as centers for culture, commerce and opportunity.”
Airport to cost between $8 mil. and $10 mil.