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The construction of a new state-of-the-art Civil Aviation Building should begin by year-end.

Minister of International Business and International Transport, George Hutson, made this disclosure this morning during the 33rd Eastern Caribbean Network Technical Group and the third Eastern Caribbean Network Technical Group meeting at the Savannah Hotel.

Once completed, the building is also expected to accommodate the Meteorological Department, the Air Transport Licencing Authority and other necessary offices to enhance staffing conditions.

"The Barbados economy is driven mainly by tourism and depends on airlift to facilitate this sector. The Government therefore, deems it very important that we create and retain a modern technological infrastructure at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) that is capable of attracting the new high tech aircraft," he said.

He stressed that continuous airport renovations were critical to achieving the developmental objectives of Small Island developing States (SIDS), especially those where tourism and international business development were at the core of the economy.

As it relates to Barbados, the Airport Master Plan to guide the physical development of the GAIA over the next 20 to 25 years has been completed and will soon be presented to Cabinet before being laid in Parliament.

Improvements made to the airport so far include an extended taxiway at the Eastern end of the runway and the installation of an Energy Efficient Centre Lighting to guide aircraft on the taxiway.

In addition, signage on the airfield has been upgraded as well as the drainage to minimise water settlement on the runway.

But, the Minister pointed out that such initiatives carried significant price tags in an environment where the cost of regional air travel was already too high.

"The governments of the region are faced with the dilemma of how to finance needed airport development, deciding how much of the cost should be borne by the travelers using the facility directly; how much of the cost should be borne by the taxpayers in general and how you can contain the cost of airport/aviation within the region," he said.

Mr. Hutson stressed that there was a need to examine new mechanisms for regional cooperation and cost sharing.


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