Barbados is looking towards substantial returns on investment in the aviation sector.
This was disclosed today at the launch of GAIA’s Pavement Rehabilitation and Expansion Project, at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Wildey, St. Michael.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmonds, in commending stakeholders on the work soon to be executed at the airport, said that one of the issues expected to be put to Cabinet would be the need to have substantially greater returns on Barbados’ capacity to see the aviation sector first, and the airport, as a vehicle within that sector, providing Barbados with greater revenue.
Drawing on aviation studies, the Minister noted that in the Asian Pacific region, an average airport tended to have its non-aeronautical revenue (derived from those things that have nothing to do with the landing of the aircraft or the charging of the passengers, taxes, etc.) averaging out at around 60 per cent of the airport’s revenue.
Elaborating he said: “In North America, that too is the case. Globally, you probably would have a slightly lower average bringing you down to 50 to 55 per cent. In Barbados, we are at 25 per cent, so as far as I am concerned it is unacceptably low, but yet we have tremendous potential.
“We drive past it everyday. We all know that we have acres and acres of airport land which we have not utilized, but which have the potential for a number of things – hotel, car rental facility, aviation-related industry, maintenance repair operations, part of what this launch is about. That pavement works would see us doing work on the south side so you would have a south ramp created which will have fixed based opportunities for there to be more handling and facilitating of private jets…”
Emphasizing that these bring revenue to airports, he stressed that such needed to occur here. “If we are going to seriously speak the language of growth in Barbados, and seriously speak the language of transformation and development in Barbados, then the hour has come when there has to be a fundamental philosophical rethinking of the process,” said the International Transport Minister.
Meanwhile, Director of Projects at CDB, Daniel Best, noted that the airport project was consistent with CDB’s strategic objectives of supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and development, through strengthening and modernizing social and economic infrastructure.
“It integrates cross-cutting themes of energy security; regional cooperation and integration and environmental sustainability. In particular, the project scope includes activities which will improve the quality of infrastructure, enhance the institutional capacity of GAIA Inc., and reduce energy consumption from existing pavement lighting at the Airport,” he proffered.
Adding that once completed the project would contribute to the competitiveness of the tourism sector and the wider economy, Mr. Best said Grantley Adams International Airport was arguably one of the two most important facilities servicing the tourism sector and the wider national economy, the other being the Bridgetown Port.
“GAIA also serves as an essential air transport hub for the Eastern Caribbean. In 2018, GAIA facilitated the movement of over two million passengers, nearly 11 million tonnes of cargo, and 33,296 aircraft landings and departures, continuing a pattern of growth recorded since 2013. That growth is projected to continue into the foreseeable future,” he stressed.