Negril International Airport master plan being developed
Vernamfield options being explored
Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport Daryl Vaz (right) in dialogue with chief executive officer of Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency Andrew Winter, during a tour of Sangster International Airport on Thursday.

MONTEGO BAY, St James - Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, Daryl Vaz has announced that a consultant has been hired to develop a master plan on how to transform the Negril Aerodrome into an international airport.

His comments came in response to journalists' request for an update on the country's aerodromes following a tour of Donald Sangster International Airport (SIA) on Thursday. The minister spoke of the impact having an international airport in Negril would have on alleviating congestion which has plagued SIA in the past. It is estimated that a record five million visitors will pass through the Montego Bay airport by December.

"That [development of the Negril Aerodrome] also will have a huge impact in relation to taking some of the pressure off of MBJ Airports [operators of SIA]," Vaz said.

The minister also provided an update on the Vernamfield air strip in Clarendon.

"There's an enterprise team that has been formed to look at [it] in terms of what actually would be the best use for Vernamfield," he said, in response to a question from the Jamaica Observer.

"That is something that you will hear about in short order as well because it's part of the overall discussions we're having in relation to airports and the usage of airports in and across Jamaica," added Vaz.

During a tour of Sangster International Airport in March, Prime Minister Andrew Holness had indicated that the Government plans to build an international airport at Vernamfield for cargo and other logistics purposes.

Vernamfield is a former World War II United States Army Air Forces airfield. Built in 1941, it was abandoned and all structures were removed or torn down after it was decommissioned in 1949.

On Thursday Vaz emphasised that the Government has prioritised the formulation of an overall plan for air transportation in and out of Jamaica. In addition to SIA, there is the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and Ian Fleming International Airport in St Mary.

BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer writer

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