For the first time in 63 years, the government of The Bahamas is the owner of the Grand Bahama International Airport.
The Official Signing Ceremony of the Share Purchase Agreement between Freeport Airport Development Company Limited and Freeport Harbour Company Limited and the signing of the Waiver Agreement between the Government of the Bahamas and the Grand Bahama Port Authority took place on April 29, 2021. Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert A. Minnis, along with Minister of Tourism and Aviation, the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar came to the island for the event.
Also present were: Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, the Hon. Michael Pintard; Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon Iram Lewis; Minister of State for Finance and for Grand Bahama, Sen. the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson; Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, the Hon. Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe; Acting Chairman of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Sarah St. George,; and Chief Executive Officer of Hutcheson, Allan Dixon.
The Prime Minister noted that despite storms and the devastating effects of COVID-19 on life and livelihoods, the march to recovery and the economic revival of Grand Bahama continues. He said, “I firmly believe that every crisis brings new opportunity.
“I am pleased to announce today that we are delivering on our commitment to purchase the Grand Bahama International Airport.”
This signing brought the number of airports owned throughout the country at various stages of development to 30. “While this Airport in Grand Bahama was almost completely destroyed by Dorian, our commitment is steadfast in the rebuilding of the Grand Bahama International Airport as a world-class facility.
“We will develop a modern facility that is designed and built to be resilient and meet the weather conditions that are experienced during the frequent storms that affect Grand Bahama. This new facility will also enable the return of U.S. Preclearance.” He continued, “Grand Bahama’s economy does well when residents have access to modern infrastructure and facilities.
“Your economy does well when we facilitate its major industries, including: manufacturing, shipping, financial services, and of course, tourism. “We continue to demonstrate our commitment to the revitalization of this island’s economy.” To strengthen this commitment, the government signed a Purchase Agreement with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and the ITM Group and this deal should be completed soon.
Prime Minister Minnis said the employees of the Airport, 63 of them, will be employed by the Airport Authority if they choose.
New contracts will be issued during the week of May 24. He further stated, “I am pleased to confirm that the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the redevelopment of the new Grand Bahama International Airport is significantly underway. The Department of Aviation is working closely with our International Consultants, Leigh Fisher. “This group has helped to successfully steward similar projects in our region to issue a market-leading RFP, so that market can drive the process. We are pleased that there is high interest in the airport development and continue to receive many inquiries for the redevelopment of this Airport.
“Accordingly, we engaged Leigh Fisher in order to be transparent in the redevelopment of the facility, and in awarding a contract to a new management partner. We expect that the RFP will be issued within the next three months and a decision made as soon as the review process is completed.”
It is hoped that through the arrangement with a private partner, the government will not have to spend significant funds. There are five Bahamian companies interested in the redevelopment of the facility. The government will spend approximately $1.5 million to rebuild the Customs Warehouse, carryout elevator and structural repairs to the Air Traffic Control Tower and secure office space for the Airport management team and airlines.
“As we previously reported, we are paying the Freeport Harbour Company $1.00 for this airport facility, let me repeat, ONE BAHAMIAN DOLLAR. “Additionally, we are paying approximately $1 million to assist in staff severance costs.
“The Freeport Harbour Company has invested $1.6 million to convert the Fixed Based Operation or FBO into a new temporary terminal and has been subsidizing the monthly operating costs of this facility.
“After the transfer date, and until the new PPP is identified through the RFP process, the Government has committed to continue to carry these costs. Employees, he noted, are assured that their jobs are secured. The Prime Minister listed several things the government is working on, “This airport facility that we will develop; the Grand Lucayan Hotel that is now open and will soon change owners; the newly renovated Rand Hospital along with the new four-story expansion project, the Royal Caribbean/ITM cruise port terminal facility and the Carnival Cruise port facility are examples of our determined and unwavering fight to inject new life into Grand Bahama.”