Minister responsible for Port Services Phillip J. Pierre has denied reports of plans to privatize the Hewanorra International Airport.
Pierre has said that government is looking at entering into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) aimed at keeping the cost to the Saint Lucian taxpayer down.
However, Saint Lucia News Online (SNO) published a report on Monday, which was carried by Airport World that revealed that there were discussions surrounding the privatization of the airport during a summit in Athens.
Airport World has said that the Government of St Lucia and operator the St Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA) are looking for a private investor, to operate and develop the gateway, which handled 690,000 passengers in 2013.
“Up for grabs is a 30 year concession for an investor prepared to invest $118 million on new terminal and other key infrastructure and a further $90 million on the maintenance and repair of its existing facilities. In an ideal world, the RFP will be put out to tender next year and the airport will get the new terminal by 2018,” it said.
SLAPSA’s General Manager Keigan Cox also told Airport World: “We are looking for private sector knowledge and know-how as well as financial investment. We believe the time is right to develop the airport to facilitate passenger growth and tourism development.”
However, SLASPA has told the local media that any deal would be a PPP transaction and will not involve the privatization or sale of the airport.
The Caribbean gateway is predicted to reach 1.6mppa by 2044 with the bulk of international passengers coming from the US, Canada, UK and France, Airport World reported.