BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Feb 14, CMC – The Barbados government is expected to give approval for a worldwide tender for the creation of a public-private partnership for the development, operation and expansion of the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) Inc.
Tourism and International Transport Minister, Kerrie Symmonds, said that Cabinet is expected to take a decision on the matter on Thursday.
Symmonds said the government intends to work with the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank to obtain the technical expertise which Barbados does not possess with respect to the project.
“This is nothing that has not been done before in the Caribbean. Those people who are familiar with aviation and certainly the Bank [CDB] would have its experts. And, you would know that Suriname, St Maarten, Jamaica…and then Martinique.
“There are a number of airports around the region which would have gone through this process because it lends not only an improved operational efficiency, but for our purposes in Barbados, it is critical because of the capacity constraints.”
Symmonds said that the existing arrival and departure terminals “are literally bursting at the seams and we cannot continue in this vein. To be fair to the management and staff of the airport substantial developmental work must be done.
“The country is not in a financial position where we can add that to one of the several guarantees that the Government of Barbados has been asked to make.… So, we have to find a more creative way of doing this.”
The Tourism Minister said that the proposal would be that the concessionaire, once identified, would be given an operational lease for a period of 20 to 30 years, allowing for a reasonable time to have a return on the investment.
He said that the ownership of the airport would remain with the Barbados government and that at the end of the period of the operational lease, the ownership would revert to the GAIA Inc., which for the foreseeable future, would be a holding company with regulatory oversight of all airport and civil aviation activities.