‘High-level’ talks underway with govt over GB airport

The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) is engaged in “high-level discussions” with the government over the purchase of Grand Bahama International Airport, GBPA President Ian Rolle confirmed last night.

The airport is a joint venture by GBPA and Hutchison Port Holdings.

It was one of thousands of buildings damaged by Hurricane Dorian in early September.

On Tuesday, Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said the government was eyeing the purchase of the airport.

Last night, Rolle told The Nassau Guardian, “Well, I can confirm that the shareholders are having high-level discussions with the government pertaining to the airport company at the moment.

“…The main focus is getting the airport opened up as soon as possible to facilitate international travel to and from the island.

“So, that’s the main focus for everybody right now. I mean we [k]now that Hutchison and the airport group and the government are all committed to getting the airport opened.”

Asked when the discussions began, Rolle said, “That’s happening at a high level so I couldn’t tell you when.”

Earlier this week, D’Aguilar noted that Hutchison Ports has “not demonstrated” an effort to rebuild the airport to the state that it was prior to the storm, describing the company as “somewhat reluctant”.

Last night, when asked about the minister’s comments regarding Hutchison Ports, Rolle said he was unable to speak for the company.

However, he said that the company has been “a very committed investor on the island for years now,” noting that it had invested “well over” $1 billion into the island’s economy.

Asked whether GBPA would still remain a partner in the airport if it’s bought by the government, Rolle replied, “We will do whatever is in the best interest of Freeport. So, we’re opened to any option that’s best for the island.”

Rolle said the airport’s domestic terminal is “out of commission” two months after Dorian devastated parts of Grand Bahama and Abaco.

“The international and the domestic terminal, both of these entities or terminals have significant storm damage,” he said.

“The idea is to install or create a temporary solution for international and domestic travel. I mean domestic travel is happening now.”

Rolle said GBPA is focused on utilizing infrastructure that was not damaged by Dorian to bring international traffic to the airport.

“So, we’re going to use an existing structure and then also bring in temporary structures to facilitate international travel,” he said.

Asked how much repairs to the airport would cost, Rolle replied, “I don’t have any idea what that is at the moment.”

On Tuesday, D’Aguilar said it could cost up to $40 million to repair the airport.

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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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