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Airport project needed but give businesses more $$$

While admitting that improved air access would benefit the British Virgin Islands, Chairman of the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association (BVICCHA), Louis Potter wants government to give the proposed $250 million airport expansion project serious consideration.

Potter has also made a case for the local business community to get a bigger financial allocation in government’s proposed recovery plan.

Of the $721 million expected to fund recovery, the business and economy sector is expected to receive $262.9 million. However, only two percent ($4.4 million) of that $262 million-sum will be pumped directly into local businesses.

The remaining $250 million (95 percent) will be earmarked for the airport expansion project.

The BVICCHA Chairman said more funds should be allocated to business and economy, which he described as an important sector.

“One may argue that the benefits that will come for businesses may not only be the direct benefits because the other sectors will also spill over to the business sector. But we still must accept that the quantum going to businesses [in the plan] is extremely small,” Potter said.

“There is no question that the business community is the engine that drives the BVI economy, and if we want to get them up, it is important that we support them and give them a boost,” he argued.

“There is no reason why the quantum going to businesses should just be two percent. It should be something like five to seven percent or higher.”

Detailed study needed for airport project

Though noting that money allocation in the plan needs to be revised, Potter accepted that the territory has challenges in moving persons in and out of the territory in an “expeditious way”, especially during crises such as the hurricanes.

He said expanding the airport would solve that problem.

“Some of the hoteliers; when you say airport expansion their face light up. But it’s a lot of money that must be put up to be able to accomplish that. We also have to understand that where the airport is, there are a number of limitations to it with respect to the length, so there are some challenges. But, it is something that needs to be looked at very, very carefully, and a solution is needed and we need to get the right one,” Potter said.

When asked whether he thinks the project is timely, Potter responded that the expansion is ‘necessary’.

The National Democratic Party government plans to expand the runway at the Terrence B Lettsome International Airport from 4,645 feet to about 7,100 feet so larger aircrafts can land in the territory.

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19 Comments

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  1. Farmer says:

    Lets build an aircraft carrier, might be easier….
    Then train the youth to be sailors. China can help.

  2. My cents says:

    I think Govn’t should stop selling the idea that the runway extension is for larger carriers to and from the mainland, USA.
    It should instead sell it to the people as a private jet Hub, for access to the rich safe haven properties around the NorthEast Caribbean. One of our downfall is not during the season we are losing the overnight fees from these jet. The airport runs of of parking space forcing other jets to drop in and off their passengers and they relocate the jets to Angullia, St. Martian and St. Thomas.
    The facilities that were damaged by the hurricane need to be rebuild and quickly or else BVI will be having no more aviation future. The director of the BVIAA, needs to be transparent with the public and say what is needed so the people can understand. Gov’t calling out figures does not digest well with people who can not comprehend the urgency. Again, people are thinking that the Airport expansion is solely on long runway for big jet.

    • Albion says:

      The odds of a large US carrier operating direct flights to BVI after the runway extension are zero.

      Government knows this. If there was any interest at all on the part of any US carrier to offer direct flights to the BVI, Government would be shouting about it from the rooftops. But their silence is deafening. The major carriers are cutting their flights into and out of Puerto Rico – no one seriously thinks they are going to start laying on new flights to BVI.

      • Watcher says:

        Certainly before any money is spent there should be some kind of survey of carriers to establish just who,would run flights here. And no one should be paid subsidies.

  3. Socrates says:

    Is Louis “Bouy” Potter the chairperson of the NDP? Did we expect him to say anything other than being in lock step with the ruling party and publically support the project? How credible is his opinion? Does the BVI have a number of critical needs? Is the airport extension project a need or want? If a want, should it be on the recovery plan? For whom is the airport extension intended? Should the many be tagged with paying for a huge unaffordable project for the benefit of a wealthy few?

    Why is approximately 95% of Buisness and Economy line item on the recovery plan being gobbled up by a single project, a want—-airport extension? Why did the extension project skyrocketed from $153M to $250M? What are the causes of the 63% cost escalation? Would anyone be surprise if the cost escalate further? Residents should agitate against this project if the majority does not want it, should they not?

  4. Watcher says:

    How many hotels are members of Mr Portters association?

  5. Native Son says:

    They also left out the plan to bulldoze Anegada for the transshipping port that was proposed last summer. They must amend their cost figures yet again.

  6. See says:

    Beyond any level of ignorance and deception. Recovery money should mean just that. How about roads , sewage , drinking water that doesnt flow down the streets and yes one more minor thing … rebuilding all of our schools for the future generations . Dont allow the powers that be steal one more time on their way out the door . All of the sudden another 100 million . People have to speak up . THERE ARE NO MAJOR AIRLINES COMING HERE . Face the facts .

  7. Crazy says:

    Trying to get to the VI will take me between 16 to 22 hours if this was a direct flight it would take no more than 5 hours!

  8. Truth says:

    We better be careful we not creating another white elephant like —

  9. Bob says:

    Forget the runway extension. The St Thomas airport is so close to the port in St Thomas. Money would be better spent with a take over of all ferry service with up to date ferries and on time reliable service. Many countries offer this kind of transportation services.

    • Great Dog says:

      it adds five hours to a trip and it means you have to deal with “services “ in St Thomas that from immigration to the overloaded dangerous and rip off taxis , are about as bad as it gets.

      Fly to Puerto Rico and on from there. I find that better and often cheaper now that competition has forced the air fares down to a reasonable level.

      But , airline operators, why not a direct service to Miami that stops and refuels somewhere?

  10. Returning says:

    So they want to dump our recovery money on a failing airport that cannot even administer what they have now…smh…get rid of the ineffective management first. Maybe with more effective management the public will start to see the benefits.

  11. Caribbean Girl says:

    Extend the airstrip for bigger planes for more tourists,. and where are they going to stay (most hotels closed), eat (many restaurants closed, and charter boats (fleet reduced considerably?
    Now is not the time for this…
    They need to re-think this want and not needed extension.

  12. Great Dog says:

    30 people land at that airport and it can take an hour to get through immigration. ( Tourists to the back because in the usual BVI way we want your money but we also want to treat you like dirt)

    What happens when 300 land?

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