Calling family island airports obsolete and inadequate, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) noted it would cost almost $140 million to have them modernized.
The out-island airports are considered one of the country’s critical infrastructure areas, in the IDB’s recently released Caribbean Region Quarterly Bulletin on Infrastructure Development for the Caribbean.
Calling local ports and shipping facilities “fragmented, outdated and inefficient”, the IDB in the report said modernization is required to maintain connectivity and aid further development of the country.
In terms of transportation, connecting the more remote southernmost islands remains the greatest challenge for the government, according to the IDB.
“With over 53 licensed airports, 28 of which are government-owned and operated, air connectivity is comprehensive and getting better, as The Bahamas caters to all the leading air carriers of North America and some from Europe,” the report notes.
“However, as is the case for maritime transportation, the Family Islands require substantial investment in aviation transport and connectivity, with recent estimates suggesting that almost US$140 million is needed to upgrade its obsolete and inadequate public airport infrastructure and systems to comply with international aviation standards.”
While the IDB highlighted improvements in air connectivity among the islands, it also pointed out that foreign carriers dominate seat capacity, accounting for 75 percent of the market share.
The IDB approved a $35 million airport infrastructure loan for The Bahamas in January 2017, roughly six years after it approved a $47.5 million air transport reform program loan in December 2011.
The government allocated the $35 million loan for upgrades to the Exuma, North Eleuthera, Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay airports.
Last year, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar estimated it would cost $200 million to fully renovate all of those airports and that could only be accomplished through public-private partnerships.