Regional

Fuel farm opens at Ian Fleming Int'l Airport

By RENAE DIXON Sunday Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 27, 2014    

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BOSCOBEL, St Mary - The Ian Fleming International Airport in Boscobel in St Mary now has its own fuel plant and so aircraft coming into the facility no longer have to get fuel elsewhere.

The plant was officially opened last Wednesday, at a ceremony held on the grounds of the three-year-old airport.

Commander John McFarlane, senior director of airport operations at the Airports Authority of Jamaica, said at the ceremony that the Ian Fleming International Airport can now fuel any type of aircraft which comes in or out of the airport. With this farm at the facility, the airport could become the central point for technical stops for aircraft in the Caribbean.

The fuel farm, along with one put in at the Tinson Pen Aerodrome, was done at a cost of over US$1 million.

According to Luther Williams, general manager of the Jamaica Aviation Refueling Services, the implementation of the facility at the Ian Fleming Airport was "very expensive". Williams said that with the farm located close to the sea, the choice material for 90 per cent of the fuel plant is stainless steel.

Both JET A1 and AvGas 100 LL fuel will be supplied at the facility. The farm has a capacity of nearly 60,000 litres presently and has the potential to further expand without any disruption in operations, Williams revealed.

While the cost of implementing the farm has been high, it is expected to cut the operating cost for jet operators who would have had to fly elsewhere to get fuel.

According to Captain Errol Stewart, CEO of the Caribbean Aviation Training Centre, the farm is expected to reduce the fees of students by about 20 per cent.

While the cost for students will be cut, Stewart said that there are several benefits to be gained from the airport, and called on all stakeholders to play their part in the development of the facility.

"Let us sing one song of the development of the general aviation airport," he stated.

Stewart said that the airport is able to change tourism in the area and can also benefit the business community, making travelling much easier for many.

"We can make it work as a team," Stewart pointed out. "This is no white elephant," he added.

Earl Richards, president of the Airports Authority of Jamaica said that the airport is strategically positioned and that work is being done to allow it to reach its full potential.

"We are at a turning point," he stated.

Richards said that the implementation of the fuel farm at the facility will bring both short and long term benefits to St Mary and Jamaica.

"This is an investment that is solid," he stated.

He said that the AAJ is committed to providing the quality service and products that the aviation industry requires. In that same light, he said that the body is working to implement several essential services at the airport.

In the meantime, Commander McFarlane said that work is being done to market the facility. He said that both aircraft operators and owners are being targeted. He further pointed out the Ian Fleming Airport will be the "one stop location" for aeroplane operators, as it will not only allow refueling but will also allow for the maintenance of aircraft to be done at the facility.

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