St Elizabeth aerodrome, airstrip to get attention

MINISTER of Transport and Mining Robert Montague says airport development projects will this year be undertaken by the Government as part of an initiative to improve and expand Jamaica’s aviation industry.

“We are steering forward with new airport developments, including upgrading of the Lionel Densham Airport [St Elizabeth] under a reverse public-private partnership to the tune of approximately $103 million. There are also plans to acquire, through lease, the Holland Bamboo airstrip [St Elizabeth] for rehabilitation and reactivation,” he said.

Minister Montague was opening the 2020/21 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Turning to the development of Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) in Kingston, Montague said the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ) is scheduled to complete some projects already contracted, even while operators of the facility, PAC Kingston Airport Limited implements capital works totalling US$200 million, including runway expansion .

“However, due to the [novel] coronavirus pandemic, we have agreed to postpone the start-up date,” he told the House.

NMIA, for the first time last year, was certified as an aerodrome operator by the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority. The aerodrome operator certificate dated October 4, 2019 expires on October 3, 2020.

At the same time, he said Sangster International Airport, which is operaated by MBJ Airports Limited, commenced a US$70-million, 24-month runway extension and shoreline protection project in January 2020.

He added that a master plan airport expansion programme, estimated at US$100 million, was slated to commence this year, but has been pushed back as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The minister said, too, that the AAJ is collaborating with the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority and other entities to establish a National Aviation Training Institution and announced that aviation scholarships will be offered to residents in communities where airports are located.

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