A rebuilt, world-class airport on Grand Bahama is projected to be completed in line with the opening of the Grand Lucayan resort in early 2025, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper said yesterday.
Last month, the government issued a new request for proposals (RFP) in search of a partner to rebuild Grand Bahama International Airport (GBIA), which sustained an estimated $60 million in damage during Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
Cooper, who answered media questions following the announcement that Electra America Hospitality Group agreed to purchase the Grand Lucayan resort from the government for $100 million, said airlift is a critical component to the revitalization of the resort and Grand Bahama.
“Grand Bahama international Airport is projected to be completed in line with the completion of this resort, that’s 2025. As you know we’ve already gone out to market for a developer for that airport. We are proposing that it be done through a PPP (public-private partnership) with the design, management, build, finance of the entire airport. That process closes on May 15 and already I am advised that we have had a significant level of expression of interest in the development of the airport,” he said.
The Davis administration axed the initial $200 million RFP for GBIA, which was issued under the Minnis administration and closed the same day as the September 16 general election.
Since Hurricane Dorian, Grand Bahamians – and in particular those who work at the airport – have lamented the shoddy state of the facility.
Unconvinced that the owners of the airport would invest the requisite financial resources to rebuild it, the Minnis administration in April last year acquired GBIA from Hutchison Port Holdings and Port Group Ltd. for $1.
Cooper said the government is in the process of executing interim repairs to the current facility to make it more adequate for workers and travelers until the new airport is constructed.
“There are a lot of things in the pipeline for Grand Bahama. Grand Bahama has been neglected for a very long time. We cannot undo the decades perhaps of neglect for many of the infrastructure components here on Grand Bahama, but we can do our part and we will. Let me first say that building a world-class airport takes time, it has to be properly designed, we have to find the right partner and then we have to build a proper airport, which takes 18-24 months in and of itself,” Cooper said yesterday.
“I have told the story over and over of how I have come to Grand Bahama and I have seen the absolute decay caused by Hurricane Dorian, the ravages at the various hangers that stood there as a constant reminder of Dorian and I have been brought to tears about it, so we are going to do something about it. So, the message today is that starting now we are doing something here at Grand Lucayan and something there.
“And I know that at the end of the day you are going to be very proud of what you get as the main gateway to the island of Grand Bahama. For two years our workers, our customs officers, our immigration officers, our ticket agents sat in trailers out there at the airport, for two years using back houses and porta-potties; we’re doing something about it. We have already taken steps to get proposals to rebuild the interiors of the domestic section, to ensure that our workers are properly accommodated there.
“Not three years from now, in the very short term. So, there are interim measures. You are going to perhaps see more demolition to ensure that this place is cleaned up, so that when our guests and our residents arrive here on the island, they are going to feel welcome. They are not going to feel like they are arriving to a war-torn destination, they will feel like they are arriving to the islands of The Bahamas.”