BVI News


Lorna Smith: Airport project may not happen tomorrow

Lorna Smith. GIS photo

Lorna Smith. GIS photo

While making it clear that she was not speaking in her capacity as the wife of Premier Dr D Orlando Smith, Lorna Smith last evening defended the government’s plan to expand the runway at Terrence B Lettsome International Airport, but she wondered if it will be done before the next five years.

She also agrees with a suggestion that ‘the powers that be’ should further explain the proposed expansion to members of the community.

“If we are going to move to the next level in investment, if we are going to increase our government contributions, if we’re going to increase employment – whatever it is with the next level, it has to be with an international airport. And, again, I say it’s not going to happen tomorrow.”

“A point that was made in the House [of Assembly] was that no contract has been signed; there is a preferred bidder. So, we’re talking about five years before we are going to get an [expanded] airport,” Mrs Smith told an audience at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College last evening, March 15.

According to her, a number of persons internationally have been clamouring for the airport upgrade.

Mrs Smith, who is also Interim Executive Director of BVI Finance, explained: “I work with financial services and I had one [person] in my office today (Wednesday) from Switzerland. He wants an airport. We had three from China…they want to see an airport. Everybody wants to see an airport.”

“Every country in the Caribbean that relies on tourism has an international airport. And when I say international airport, I mean an airport that will take long-haul traffic… Every country has an airport. It’s important; it’s critical,” added Mrs Smith.

Bad experiences

She, in the meantime, noted bad experiences she has had while using the current means of traveling from major international markets, through regional airports, in order to reach the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

If the airport runway is extended, much larger planes would be able to offer direct services between BVI and major international markets such as the United States and Europe.

That would cost less and also be more time effective than the current arrangements, Mrs Smith suggested.

“It costs us at least $100 more per person to go through St Thomas [in the US Virgin Islands in order to reach the BVI]. The experience is horrible. From the time you hit the ferry [in St Thomas after leaving the airport there], it takes you hours [to reach the BVI via ferry]. And coming the other way, it is just as bad. It is not the experience we want to give the people who are coming to the BVI,” Mrs Smith explained.

She continued: “You land from a very pleasant experience in Europe and you have to wait five or six hours for LIAT [airline in Antigua in order to reach the BVI]. It’s a hot box, and you wonder if you are gonna get home. It has taken people 48 hours – people who are coming to do business in the BVI – to get from Antigua to Tortola [in the BVI]. Furthermore, those airports are not ours; we need to have our own airport.”

Mrs Smith made the comments during the finals of the Inter-Secondary Schools’ Debate last night, when St Georges Secondary School successfully proposed the moot: ‘The expansion of the Terrence B Lettsome International Airport will positively impact the overall economy of the BVI. They defeated the opposing finalists from Claudia Creque Educational Centre.

Meanwhile, Premier Smith has been facing opposition even within his government as he maintains that extension of the airport runway is needed now to address airlift issues, as well as to facilitate improvements in the local economy.

While lawmakers from both the government and parliamentary opposition agree that the runway should be extended, some have questioned whether the BVI is able to afford the project at this time. They noted that more pressing issues should be addressed, adding that there are also international threats facing the territory’s main revenue earner – financial services.

The government has selected China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) as the preferred bidder on the proposed runway expansion project.

CCCC has promised to undertake the work within a proposed budget of $153,432,572.

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  1. ndp heckler says:

    I will quicker believe her because it seems she is wearing the pants

    • Reply says:

      …and what is wrong if she wears the pants in her relationship? Many women wear the pants in their relationships all the time. Nothing is wrong with that. If that works for them, it’s none of our business.

      Furthermore, regardless of the fact that she is the First Lady, she as a citizen has all right to express her opinions on maters that are in the public domain like any other person.

      So, you just jump off Lorna. Pick a fight with the Premier if you have to, but leave her alone.

    • Whats new says:


  2. Anonymous says:

    it is aproximately $400 to $500 more to fly to and from beef island as oppose to st.thomas and that is including ferry $45 tax $15/$20 and taxi $15 plus your cost of your ticket. just go online and type in your destination one from stthomas and one from beef island and see for yourself.

    • Hogplum says:

      The reason for this is the lack of economies of scale.

      Most of that price difference is due to the smaller planes taking fewer persons. They have to charge more to make the flight financially feasible.

      • @ Hogplum says:

        It doesn’t make sense wasting your time trying to explain truth and facts to people who only feel good inside when negativity reigns.

        I don’t know how people can sit with a straight face and say BVI doesn’t have sufficient traffic for travelers to fly out of here when Eagle had 6 flights a day via SJU and all were packed full.

        Even back then it was cheaper to go to/from USVI but nobody cared because they had the convenience of leaving and coming back whatever time they wanted to without worrying about ferry breaking down or not coming at all.

    • @ Anonymous says:

      I just went online and the ticket to Miami from BVI costs $150.00 more than going through St Thomas in May ANDDDDDD I get to Miami in time to enjoy South Beach and some shopping, without ferry and USVI taxi hassle. You need to go online yourself because the options using EIS to SJU then onward are far more than those via STT.

    • Inter caribbean rep says:

      you guys always chatting piss all the time. Go online now at and select flights from Beef Island to San Juan round trip and you will see tickets as low as $141.00 round trip.(inclusive of all taxes).

      Thereafter book your own onward flight cheaply from SJU to your onward destination.

      it works out much better and makes much more sense than travelling thru St. Thomas

  3. Angry says:

    Lorna go sit down….u are not and will never be an elected official

    • Who? says:

      We have a group of persons being paid to run the country. Why then is this lady front and center on these matters?

      Does this mean that other non-elected spouses can just up and represent us? Nooo way….

    • FREE MASA says:

      she is the elected official’s elected official

  4. Just Wrong says:

    “According to her, a number of persons internationally have been clamouring for the airport upgrade.”

    Hmmm, do you suppose those people have any interest in “Oil Nut Bay”?

    “Every country in the Caribbean that relies on tourism has an international airport. And when I say international airport, I mean an airport that will take long-haul traffic… Every country has an airport. It’s important; it’s critical,” added Mrs Smith.

    Hmmmm, when did St. Barts build theirs?

  5. Shhhh says:

    What is hers done land so she has to now sing for her supper.

  6. WOO says:

    Who we think squeaky clean is not.

  7. Concerned Citizen says:

    We don’t want NDP accessing anymore loans and drowning us in anymore more debts on our behalf. Yes! The Airport Project is needed someday in the future, but not at this time.

    NDP is too Da#n Irresponsible with other peoples’ money- That’s us- the Taxpayers- who ultimately have to pay the creditors back, just incase you’ll have forgotten.

  8. Same old says:

    She from angulla and has more voice than we who born here

  9. So says:

    what the airport consultant getting paid for?

  10. Who says:

    What does this lady have to do with anything?

  11. ReX FeRaL says:

    Shouldn’t happen at all. People want to see something different when they travel.

    • Hmmmm says:

      How many ‘people’ have you surveyed about this topic? How do you know what ‘people’ want? So the ‘people’ that want the expanded airport are not actually considered ‘people’?

  12. SNIP says:

    This womwn have more the than the country leader (The Hon. Premier)….she needs to stop seemingly making decisions and the people suffering…..whatever decisions is made may not be in the best interest of the country

  13. dan says:

    We need to expand beef island airport so we can grow our tourism and get flights going to Canada and Europe not the states only

  14. Gertrude says:

    This woman is not the Premier. She should run for office if she wants to have a say. Why she got to be influencing everything so.

    We don’t have no money for no airport. Airport ain’t going stop people from come here.

    We need better roads, better infrastructure better everything before we can accommodate heavy traffic.

  15. Socrates says:

    Is the Lorna Smith interviewing for a run at elected office? How can Lorna differentiate herself from Doc and NDP and stand on her own two feet? Is she trying to continue a dynasty?

    What is Lorna’s opinion on controversial issues, ie, $7M giveaway to BVI Airways, $30M cost overrun on Tortola Pier Park, $1M ESHS wall, Stone Age ferry system, expenditure and end product of $16M social security loan for road repair, acute shortage of skilled locals for too many jobs, staffing and outfitting of Peebles Hospital, is it a conflict of interest to serve in the same Ministry that Doc has purview over, skyrocketing cost of living, third world sewer system, unreliable water supply., rising crime……etc.

    Further, is Lorna highly satisfied with the performance of NDP? If no does she have strength and courage to call them out, is Ms. P? Was she onboard with the kicking to the kerb of the Bishop?

  16. CrackHead says:

    Which airport proposal? and why the children were not given the actual documents to debate? Come on the same children will be paying the $153 million debt.

  17. remember says:

    flights to territory with 30,000 people will be infrequent and expensive. it’s called economics

  18. THE ACCOUNTANT says:

    One can safely conclude that this lady is totally ignorant of what drives the aviation industry or she has chosen to ignore the consequences of assuming that the industry will be led up the garden path by a few self centered investors who continue to hold our politicians hostage.

    To assume that well established air lines will operate direct flight to the BVI from Europe and the USA simply because this Government has chosen to engage in voodoo economics is simply childish.

    As it has been said time and time again, “learn from the mistakes of others.”

    The ZZZZ Minister recently attended a conference in the Eastern Caribbean. He should have engage the Premiers of St. Vincent and St. Lucia in discussions concerning their recently constructed “jet ports”.

    The BVI is fortunate that, at the end of the day, there are safe guards in place which will protect us from our own misguided politicians.

  19. Oil my Nuts says:

    This whole airport farce is actually getting to be too comical.

    I’m surprised they haven’t started in with saying since there will be a LGBT sailing team coming we need an airport to attract more of them.

    We know who the airport is for. Let him and his big moneyed friends pay for it.

  20. ,,,,,,,,, says:

    Why don’t you fix the ferry then? WE ALL KNOW via STT is the cheaper way to get to the BVI. That is why tourist come that way… not because it is cheaper or even a reasonable comparison the the cost of flying to Beef….

    The government is wrong for not doing what is need to make the ferry a pleasant experience for tourist and us.

  21. bandit says:

    BVI politicians want to be like everyone else. If any country in the caribbean build something. BVI politicians want one but only bigger.

    When will this craziness stop. Let them build the airport and lets see what come out of it. Simply building a bigger airport will not mean that air service will increase.

    Just look at whats happening in Cuba with all of the US airlines rushing to get in because they thought it was going to be gold mine.

    At this point, they are all retreating because the demand simply is not there.

  22. NPolitico says:

    Though pillow talk may give Lorna influence as the De facto Premier, Dr. Hon Premier D. Orlando Smith is the de jure Premier.

    On Election Day 08 June 2015, the electorate voted overwhelmingly for D. Orlando Smith to be the Premier. Subsequent to the election, Governor Duncan appointed him as Premier.

    If Doc is not up to the task, he needs to exit and let someone else be appointed Premier. What the VI does not need is surrogate(s) acting as de facto Premier.

    Furthermore, if Lorna wants to throw her hat in the political ring, she needs declare and put her cards on the table. That said, political dynasties have not worked out so well at other locales. Nevertheless, Lorna has the training, education and experience to stand for election.

    Morover, let’s stop the crap and foolish talk. The airport extension project at this time should not be a top priority, for it is not affordable and there other higher priorities.

    Let’s put the EGO aside and act responsible. Do not take my word for it. Just goggle the basic principles of airline economics.

    Other bloggers have also been hammering home the point of airline economics, especially the point of passenger load factor.

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