Government is working towards creating a Civil Aviation Authority.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said legislation for the creation of the authority was being drafted, and expressed hope that the bill would be taken to Parliament by September/October.
According to her, the issue of the absence of a Civil Aviation Authority had been outstanding for too long, and stressed the importance of such an institution.
Ms. Mottley made the comments today after witnessing the signing of the Financial Advisory Services Agreement between the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group and the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA). Regional Vice President of IFC for Latin America & Caribbean, Europe and Central Asia, Georgina Baker, and Chairman of GAIA, Vic Fernandes, signed the document.
The Prime Minister said discussions were held with the IFC, and after much discussion, it was agreed that government would retain ownership of the airport.
“We will eventually do a divestment partially of some limited shares to the National Insurance Scheme and the workers of the airport. But without prejudice to that… we would work to do a long term concession on the airport because it is urgently in need of major capital refurbishment,” she stressed.
Vice President Baker congratulated government for choosing to improve the GAIA through a public/private partnership.
She said that through this mechanism, the private sector would be responsible for undertaking the required capital works, financing, operations and maintenance of the airport, under a long-term contractual obligation, with the length of the concession to be finalized.
“The signing of the Financial Advisory Service Agreement will allow IFC and the Grantley Adams International Airport Incorporated to begin work, beginning with diagnostic work and transaction structure design for GAIA, and will include technical, legal, financial and environmental and social due diligence.
“Once that phase is completed, the teams will focus on the development and finalization of bidding documents, the competitive bidding process and the contract awarded to the winning bidder,” Ms. Baker explained.
She added that the Prime Minister had asked for the work to be concluded within the year, and stressed that even though it was an aggressive timeline, it was one they were committed to achieving.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerri Symmonds explained that under the public/private partnership, the concession would be 25 to 30 years, and it should include the expansion of the terminal building, the addition of five jet bridges and the modernization of the airport systems and infrastructure.
He explained that the new concessionaire would have an opportunity to look at the master plan of the airport and make an input into what is treated as priority.
He continued: “The airport has been in a state of disrepair for such a long period of time that everything seems to be a priority at this point…. The airport has a tremendous amount of potential to generate non-aeronautical revenue, those things that have nothing to do with the landing of the aircraft,” he stressed.
The IFC is a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group. It works with the private sector in developing countries to create markets that open up opportunities for all.