Miraculously, the lengthy runway at the Grand Bahama International Airport remained quite stable, and, usable despite the overwhelming encroachment of salt water as the sea came ashore from the north and devastated the terminal buildings, during Hurricane Dorian in late September last year.
Thus, although a portion of the taxi way for planes was damaged, the airport was opened up for aircraft arrivals and departures, relatively quickly, after the stormed moved away from the island.
Accordingly, once reconstruction and refurbishments of terminals take place, the Grand Bahama International will be one of the quality smaller airports in the region. No doubt the runway withstood Hurricane Dorian because it was constructed properly with layers of asphalt slabs. The runway’s subbase and base layers were not compromised at all, it seems, and aircraft loads are distributed evenly throughout the depth of the layers of asphalt and concrete.
It is a solid runway.
The length runs 12,000 and the airport being at sea level, can accommodate really large aircraft such as Boeing 747s and even the huge Russian Antonov-225 which can carry as much as 550,000 pounds of freight. So, indeed, the Government of The Bahamas would be making a sound investment, in our view, if it purchases the Grand Bahama International Airport from the joint owners, Hutchison Whampoa and the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
The time is right.
It is time for a conclusive statement from the government, regarding the airport. All we’ve heard so far, is that the government is in ongoing discussions with the owners, but it has not been officially disclosed that these talks are taking place with the full intent to buy.
Grand Bahamians need to hear something concrete. The airport is the key to tourism revival on the island. A lot of the unemployed would be able to earn a salary again, if the government purchases the airport and immediately begins work to return it to full international status.
We advise the government, not to procrastinate.
Time is of the essence.
If the government purchases the airport in short order, it will still take a big push to get it completed within the present term of office. Experts have informed that the reconstruction/refurbishment of the airport will take no less than two full years. The longer the airport remains in its present condition, the more difficult it will be for the island’s economy to rebound. A lot hinges on a quality airport in Freeport. Investors such as Royal Caribbean want to be certain that there will be that avenue for mass tourist arrivals.
We submit that Royal Caribbean and its partner (the ITM Group) will not sign off on the Grand Lucayan Resort purchase until there is certainty that the airport will be transformed for the much better.
The government should move with haste towards a purchase arrangement with Hutchison and the Grand Bahama Port Authority.