The five generators ordered by the government last year are presently being installed at Grand Bahama International Airport (GBIA), Minister of Tourism, Aviation, and Investments Chester Cooper said.
The installation process is expected to be completed by June 30.
“Once the project is finished, the airport will have the power necessary for evening flights. Thereafter, it’s simply a matter of scheduling by the airlines,” Cooper told Grand Bahama News.
The custom-built machines cost the government $150,000 and took 26 weeks to arrive on island from China, due to the global shipping delays.
GBIA sustained an estimated $60 million in damage during Hurricane Dorian, with storm surges up to 20 feet, which destroyed both the domestic and international terminals, control tower and runways.
At the time of Dorian, the airport was privately owned by Hutchison Port Holdings and the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
In April 2021, the government bought the facility for $1, with redevelopment plans under a private-public partnership (PPP).
However, with a change of government last year, Prime Minister Philip Davis and his Cabinet decided to issue a new request for proposal (RFP), seeking a partner for the redevelopment of the airport in March.
Since February 2020, GBIA operations have been run out of the former fixed based operation (FBO) building, which once accommodated private flights.
Cooper, in his contribution to the 2022/2023 budget debate in the House of Assembly, announced that three investors have expressed interest in the revitalization of the airport.
“I am pleased to advise that as a result of the RFP process, we have three credible suitors for the redevelopment of a world-class Grand Bahama International Airport,” he said.
“They’re credible with a track record and their own money. So, we expect construction to be completed by January 2025.”
In January, Cooper toured the airport and control tower for a firsthand view of the facilities’ conditions, and the working environment of customs and immigration officers, who were carrying out their duties in trailers on the property.
“We are working to do some remedial work at the airport,” Cooper said.
“Firstly, we are installing the generators. We want to ensure that the airport is safe for day and evening flights. They are doing flights, but we are enhancing the equipment.”
Cooper said the government is concerned about the working conditions at the facility.
“We wanted to address that issue quickly,” he said.
“We also ordered elevators (for the control tower), at the cost of $300,000.”
Delivery of the elevators is expected in another 24 weeks.
“We have approved funding for some temporary fixes to ensure that the Bahamian people work in good quality conditions,” Cooper said.
“We are continuously looking at ways to improve the environment for all staff in the various departments. However, we want to be clear that it is an interim measure. The development of a world-class airport for the people of Grand Bahama and our guests remains our priority.”
Currently, there are only three airlines – Bahamasair, Western Air, and American Airlines — coming into Grand Bahama, with six US flights (two from each airline) daily.
Cooper said there are several other “shovel-ready” initiatives on the way for Grand Bahama, including a decision on the International Bazaar and Xanadu Resort.
“We are just getting started for Grand Bahama,” he said.