Workers at the Grantley Adams International Airport Inc. (GAIA) are being offered the opportunity to become shareholders in that company in an arrangement which will also see the airport being run by a concessionaire.
In a meeting with the workers on Wednesday, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley revealed that significant infrastructural work was coming to the airport and Government was in talks with the private sector arm of the World Bank, called the International Finance Corporation, and was about to conclude an agreement to work with them.
She disclosed that the proposed structure, which was yet to be formally approved by Cabinet, would allow Government to retain ownership of the airport, while issuing a concession to “an outside entity that will be bid internationally”.
This, she said, was being done to allow for significant expansion of the airport, including the addition of just under 30,000 square metres in order for Barbados to become “the hub of choice for the southern cone”.
She explained: “The ownership of the airport stays with us. We are not giving away anything…. The bottom line is that that injection of capital that we need and infusion of systems that we need we believe we can get by giving out a concession.”
The Prime Minister told the workers that while the final numbers would depend on the accounting formula, it was expected that about 20 to 25 per cent of the shares in GAIA would be available to the workers as well as the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
She promised: “We will keep faith with you and create a framework in which all of the workers can share…. We need the accounting firms to come in and advise us on how best to be able to do that for every category of worker at the airport.”
Prime Minister Mottley also shared with workers plans for improving efficiencies at the port of entry, including a decision to remove immigration officers from the departure area by year end.
With the establishment of the Joint Regional Communications Centre, which tracks the movement of all persons entering the jurisdiction, the service provided by Immigration at departure was no longer necessary, she said.
She also spoke of plans for the full operationalization of the Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks in the Arrivals Hall and the removal of the Embarkation/Disembarkation (ED) cards by January next year.