Prior to the election and now ten months later there remains a need for a greater sense of urgency in addressing the transformation of the Grand Bahama International airport. The Davis led administration must lead the way in doing several things:
- Government must lay out the macro plan for the redevelopment of the overall airport inclusive of the domestic and international terminals, private aircraft arrival area along with facilities for both customs and immigration officials and other ancillary services.
- There should be stakeholders meetings relative to the proposed plan. The entities should include Central Government, Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), Lease holders (airlines).
- Simultaneously, there should be meetings with all other entities that are impacted by the state of airlift or whose growth can benefit airlift. This would include the principals in the tourism sector including hotels and the cruise sector; Representatives from the Chamber, industrials and civil society.
- Realistic timelines for this complex, expensive undertaking is crucial as this sends clear signals to local and international investors about the seriousness of government and associated partners. These timelines also inject optimism in the local community and Grand Bahamians abroad who are weighing business and personal economic decisions on the basis of the pace of recovery and development on island.
- United States of America officials should be engaged relative to pre-clearance and security matters. We must ensure ease of inbound and
outbound passengers in general and the US in particular. Further, discussions should be progressed with US authorities regarding private aircraft and freight pre-clearance from southern points of origin in particular, making the GBAC FBO a viable business and providing expedited services to private aircraft now required to land and clear at the first port of entry on entering US airspace. Less congestion at GBAC could benefit all parties allowing the US to focus on high risk countries and aircraft.
- Each step of the way the public should be kept informed and a mechanism should be put in place to benefit from public opinion.
The government was resolute about their plans and ability to transform the airport and restore and expand significant airlift into Grand Bahama. We wish them the best but still await a strategic plan and concrete actions that match their big talk. END