Call for new airport

Marlon Madden,

Added 02 April 2011

deniskellman

TOURISM IS Barbados’ major foreign exchange earner and it is expected that this sector would lead in driving economic growth for the island. And parliamentary representative for St Lucy Denis Kellman has maintained that building another airport in Barbados would be good for tourism and serve as an alternative in case of “an emergency”. Kellman has argued for years for an airport in the north. When asked by BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY if it was necessary to build an airport at this time, given the current economic conditions and rising cost of living, Kellman said there was “no doubt” another airport was needed. “There is land/air marked for an airstrip. It is when it will happen that is another matter. . . . All I would say is that if we continue to get the number of private jets and we continue to attract the business we are attracting at the major airport, there is no doubt.  “But one of the things you must bear in mind that we are a tourism country and in life you should always have an alternative. If we have a serious matter at the Grantley Adams International Airport, what would we do?” questioned Kellman. “That is why I always say that what is needed is not an airport like the Grantely Adams International but maybe one like Dominica, where you have the same type of infrastructure but an international runway. And that is the key, so that you can prepare for your private jets and in case you have an emergency you would not have to divert your business to another country,” argued Kellman. However, former chief town planner Leonard St Hill said building a new airport would have no economic benefit to the island and there was no “established need” for it.“ In this day and age it would be much better to have helicopters rather than an airstrip. A service like that would be much better. A helicopter pad would require less land and it is just as efficient. Another airport is not economical because of the maintenance and operational cost [associated with it] . . . landing fees are a part of the things that cost a lot of money and that is a part of the reason our airfares are so high,” posited St Hill. Kellman, who is also acting minister of the Environment, Water Resources and Drainage, said a proposal was made as far back as in the 1970s for an airstrip in the north and the land had also been identified which would run from Hope to Mount Poyer in St Lucy. Efforts to get a comment from David Barrow, chief executive officer of the Grantley Adams International Airport, were unsuccessful.

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