|Security personnel from the GAIA raising the flags during the annual ceremony. (A. Miller/BGIS)|
The master plan for the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) has been completed and is expected to go to Cabinet soon, before being submitted to the House of Assembly.
This was disclosed by Minister of International Business and International Transport, George Hutson, during a flag raising ceremony and official opening of a Careers Day showcase to observe International Civil Aviation Day today at the GAIA.
He added that the master plan would guide the physical development of the GAIA over the next 20 to 25 years.
"Government is committed to positioning the Grantley Adams International Airport as the preferred connection for passengers and cargo distribution in the Caribbean," he said.
He added that Barbados had a proud history of being at the forefront of Caribbean aviation. "We are also the hub of the Caribbean and a reliable connection to the outside world," he noted.
But, he acknowledged that there were areas that needed to be expanded and improved on to meet increasing demands. "We have found that there is an increasing demand for ramp space for private aircraft owned or leased by our annual high-end visitors who predominantly stay along our west coast. Space must be provided for these aircraft," the Minister stated.
Mr. Hutson also pointed out that plans to further develop the country’s cruise facilities at the Bridgetown Port and the anticipated increase in the number of visitors coming to the island under the fly/cruise programme, could create some challenges at the airport, particularly during the peak periods.
"[There are some] challenges both land-side and air-side as the demand for ramp space increases," he said, adding that at the level of cargo, Barbados’ facilities were "somewhat below par" and created challenges from a security perspective, as well as with respect to the working conditions of staff.
He admitted that this was an area that would require priority over the coming months.
Mr. Hutson stressed that the area of civil aviation was important to the economic and social development of countries like Barbados, as it contributed US$370 billion, and six million jobs to the world economy. These jobs, he said, included some 2.3 million people employed by commercial airlines and affiliated companies.
In 2010, the airlines of the International Civil Aviation-member countries carried some 2.5 million passengers, and 43 million tonnes of goods.