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$20m for jet bridges

marciadottin, [email protected]

$20m for  jet bridges

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Government is looking to install jet bridges at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) which provisional estimates indicate could cost in the vicinity of $20 million.
This was revealed in the House of Assembly earlier this week by Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy as he introduced new legislation to replace the Barbados Tourism?Authority (BTA) with two new entities responsible for marketing and product development.
Sealy said the airport was at a “precarious point” and it was itself now doing some master planning.
He said the airport was a very important facility for various reasons, not only for visitors, but as a services-based economy outside of tourism, people needed to be able to get to and from?Barbados.
“Of course, more and more people are using air freight, so the facility takes on that added dimension as well,” he added.
Sealy said one of the niches was transforming the island into Fully Accessible Barbados, where hotel properties were trying to install ramps and rails and to make themselves accessible because there was a huge niche in that department – people who may be physically challenged – and some of them have money to spend as they may have enjoyed an insurance settlement or had an accident and were looking for some place that was receptive.
“The unfortunate reality for us is that when they touch down in Barbados, there is nothing receptive . . . in that regard,” he said.
“Unfortunately, when the GAIA was redeveloped by the last Government, it was thought by the then person who held the office I do, that tourists want to feel the sun hitting them in their face when they open the door from the aircraft and that we didn’t need any jet bridges in Barbados . . .
“Here it is in 2014, we are still hefting wheelchair-bound persons down a very treacherous stairwell or putting them on the Goddard’s food truck in the back to be hoisted down between trays and trolleys . . .   We need to get past that.
“Some of the initial estimates we have looks like we are talking $20 million for a few jet-bridges and we have to work to see how best we can bring it down but it is an investment we have to make. I don’t see how we are going to get around it.
“My own view is that maybe we will have to get creative and see if there is a more efficient version of a jet bridge that can be installed and if we do that maybe we can get the price down. But what must occur along with that is to even improve the experience at the airport . . .
“I have instructed the board accordingly, that an effort at the master planning of the airport must take into consideration where the airport experience must be transformed.”
He referred to the shopping element, indicating that the departures and arrivals should not be separated, but there must be an entire shopping area as is found in Trinidad and Panama, and also the spend of intransits and the air/sea transfers must be maximised. (AB)