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Ian Fleming Airport expansion will go ahead this year, minister insists

Monday, April 17, 2017

Minister of Transport and Mining, Mike Henry says that the Government will go ahead with the expansion of the Ian Fleming International Airport (IFIA) in Boscobel despite criticisms raised by his Opposition counterpart in Parliament.

“Ian Fleming was meant to be an international airport. That’s what I left (as a former minister),” Henry told a press briefing at his ministry in Kingston on Thursday. This followed his contribution to the sectoral debate the previous evening at Gordon House.

He said that the airport’s runway would have to be expanded to accommodate international airlines like American Eagle.

“The Caribbean is going to need a regional hub, because under climate change the smaller islands will never be able to accommodate large planes,” Henry told the briefing.

But Opposition leader Peter Phillips expressed no confidence in the expansion project and claimed that the largest aircraft to be facilitated at the airport after the extension would be regional 90-seaters.

He said that Henry had already spent $450 million in 2010, which was $150 million above budget.

“The average operating loss to the Ian Fleming Airport is averaging between $50 million- $70 million per year with 2700 landings and only 200 of that sum being foreign aircrafts. The Government has now come back to the country less than a year in office to do more expansion work on the airport, to extend the existing runway by 700 feet, and some improvements to the terminal building, et cetera,” Phillips added.

He said that the Opposition was recommending that the Government approach the hoteliers and other private investors and package the Ian Fleming International Airport for divestment.

But Henry told the press that the basic point is Ian Fleming becoming an international airport to accept airlines like American eagle, which would enable passengers to “fly out of an airport that could take them to the East, West Coast of the United States, and Central and South America”.

He added that the runway should have been extended seven years ago when the cost was US$3 million.

“Now it is about US$12 million, so time is money,” Henry noted.

He also added that the expansion would benefit at least three hotels that are opening in Portland.

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