New-look airport taking shape


As published by the Cayman Compass

Work on the long-awaited expansion of the Owen Roberts International Airport is beginning to take shape.

The foundations are in place and the steel structure of the new baggage hold room is going up. That’s just phase one of a four-phase project that is expected to take three years to complete.

But the work represents the first visible signs of concrete progress on a project that has been discussed for over a decade.

“People are saying it is good to see that something is happening,” said Albert Anderson, the CEO of the Airports Authority.

“The staff are excited because they have wanted to see it done for years.”

Ultimately, the expansion will almost triple the size of the airport terminal, including new arrival and departure halls.

Phase one is a comparatively small part of the overall project and will include a new baggage handling and screening area, along with offices and a second-floor mechanical room.

The 29,000 square foot steel-framed structure was going up this week and the buildings are on track to be completed in May, despite delays caused by heavy rains in December.

Mr. Anderson said there was no current disruption to travelers caused by the work.

“It is all fenced off because it is not in an area that passengers or airport workers currently use. It is a completely separate construction zone.

“We are putting up signs asking for people to be patient while we improve the airport because people can obviously see the work going on and there is some noise from time to time.”

The Airports Authority is inviting tender bids on phase two of the project, the much larger expansion of the terminal. Construction firms have until the end of the month to bid for the work.

Once that part of the development gets under way, managing the passenger flow through the airport could become more difficult.

Mr. Anderson said the long time scale for the work was partially down to the need to manage the construction schedule to keep the airport functioning as renovations take place.

“The phasing of the work is all part of the plan,” he said. “It will be up to the bidder to manage that.”

He said a certain amount of disruption was inevitable, but the Airports Authority staff would do everything they could to minimize that.