BVI News

Airport expansion: Int’l airlines already showing interest but project still in infancy

Advisor to the BVI Airports Authority, Jeff Seider.

By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff

Large international air carriers have started to show interest in making direct flights from other countries to the British Virgin Islands once the much-touted airport expansion project is completed.

Advisor to the BVI Airports Authority, Jeff Seider, made that statement during a discussion on the project at the Althea Scatliffe Primary School Thursday evening.

“There are a number of airlines that have expressed interest in coming [but] they want tiles on the ground [before they make any commitments,” Sieder said.

Project still in infancy

The project which has been on the proverbial drawing board for a number of years is still at the infancy stage.

Greg Adams, Chief Planner of the Town and Country Planning Department said Thursday’s public discussion was to gather feedback from residents so the project can gain some semblance of traction.

“Right now I believe there is still some more work that needs to be done. We need to gather more information so we can get to the point where I can be comfortable in saying: based on the size and scope of this project, we have enough information to say we can take this decision and go forward with it,” he told BVI News.

Adams further said his department is hoping to have a draft plan on the project sometime in February. Once that draft is completed, the department will then return to the public for further consultation.


Residents, in the meantime, express various concerns in relation to the project.

Some of the concerns raised were about noise pollution to neighbouring businesses once the project gets underway, the impact on the environment, and the concern that the expansion is being pushed although there are a limited number of proper accommodations and other infrastructure to supplement any increased visitor arrivals the BVI might get because of the airport expansion.

“All of those are very valid concerns. My job is to gather as many information that we can to make the best decision that we can,,” Chief Planner Adams responded.

Adams further explained that findings of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project will be publicised to address some of the concerns.

“Even though it’s an EIA, it is not just the impact from the sea and the soil – it is the economic environment, it’s the social environment,” Adams said.

“All of this is a very fluid process right now because we recognize — given the scope of the project — there is a lot to study and consider,” he added.

Groundbreaking not around the corner

The Chief Planner said Thursday’s public meeting is not a signal that the project is about to take off.

“This process is not to railroad or suggest that we are starting the process immediately. It is a step toward making that decision.”

He said the process dates back to as far back as 2010 when there were still various locations to consider for the project. However, due to factors such as cost, it was narrowed down to Beef Island.

“I have been in my position for almost six years and I inherited the project. For financial considerations — from what I have been told — this is the most cost-effective alignment in terms of keeping the runway in its present alignment and adding on to it in an easterly direction.”

About the project

The project is estimated to cost some $250 million, out of which at least $153 million will be used to expand the runway from 4645 feet to about 7100 feet so larger aircraft can land in the territory. The balance of the funds is projected to go towards the development of the airport’s terminal building.

The project involves recruiting investors to develop and operate the airport for 20 to 30 years before returning control to central government. In October of last year, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said there would be progress on the project before he demits office.

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  1. No nonsense says:

    With the possibility of larger airlines wanting to fly to the bvi, its possible through the present government air line dealings they might have secured their$$ in years to come for kick backs for the route to the bvi. Just saying!!

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    • Really? says:

      So your suggestion is to sit back, do nothing while the other islands continue to steal our lunch in the form of tourism? That’s nice.

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      • Say What? says:

        “Steal our Lunch” Our lunch, breakfast and dinner have been already stolen from us. We owe $100,000,000 for a hospital that still isn’t even finished. We lost $7,200,000 because our leader didn’t know how to google the name of the con man he signed the deal with. We spent $40,000,000 more on the pier than we needed to. We even spent $1,400,000 building a wall around a school before putting the roof on those that needed it. A

    • Albion says:

      I don’t believe them. Vague statements like “large carriers” are designed to obfuscate rather than clarify. If there were any kind of serious concrete discussions about new airlines coming into BVI they would name the airlines.

      The reason that they don’t is because there aren’t any. This is all just puffs in the wind and empty promises to try and build support for the project.

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      • @Albion says:

        This is precisely the problem in the BVI, we always think that we are the shit!! NEWSFLASH, look around the Caribbean, we are losing our ground very quickly when it comes to Tourism. No carrier is going to go out on record confirming anything with a Territory that is perceived as a big joke on the international arena. You think it’s a game? Don’t you think these people are reading our news, or blogs, or comments and looking at our behavior? No reputable carrier is going to get into discussions with us until we show that we are serious about developing our product and moving the Territory forward.

        We just need to do some real proper due diligence, find a reputable institution to provide the funding, develop and operate the airport and get things moving. Sitting around arguing about nonsense will not help us. Exporting marijuana and pretending that fishing and planting will take up the slack when financial services slip is just ludicrous. Our answer is tourism and there is no tourism without access!!!! The expanded airport is needed and NOW!

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        • Concerned says:

          I agree. The roads sewer and other infrastructure need the $ now. Then get a proper ferry service that operates not on whim, but on a schedule that compliments the airlines that land at STT. Let the USVI spend airport $ and lets be smart and reap the benifits.

      • LOL says:

        Albion, why would an airline confirm anything when we haven’t even put a rock in the water to extend the runway? Do you think these billion dollar multi-national entities have time to play games with us? Let us sit back and watch STT and SJU continue to expand their offerings to cater to OUR people and then blame whichever party is in Government when the economy goes in the toilet.

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        • Albion says:

          The airline does need to confirm anything. But the people who are speaking to the airlines ought to be able to at least tell us the names of the airlines that they are speaking to. But they can’t. Because they don’t exist.

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          • Albion (2) says:

            Sorry, meant to say: The airline does *not* need to confirm anything. But the people who are speaking to the airlines ought to be able to at least tell us the names of the airlines that they are speaking to. But they can’t. Because they don’t exist.

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    • Field of Dreams says:

      If you build it, they will come!!!

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      • say wha? says:

        “Tiles on the ground” what does that mean? I think their consultant should be more specific otherwise he is just there to spout unrecognizable jargon as their talking head

        If this were legitimate, they should have identified who they are referring to. Which countries? Which type of planes? What is the projected number of arrivals? A 7000 foot runway isn’t going to support international arrivals.

        • Tuff says:

          TBLI Airport runway needs to be at least 8,000 to 9,000 feet to sustain future growth patterns of the territory.

          “Measure a 100 times and cut once….” rather than what we have become accustomed to of doing when it comes to this airport project; “continuous expensive expansions to meet demand.”

          We must set our positioning in front of the 8 ball rather than behind.

    • Carlos Slim says:

      Could this possibly have anything to do with drug smuggling? A longer runway would allow longer range cargo planes from South Africa to land here.

      I just don’t get the Premier’s rationale for trying to spend $250M on something we can’t afford and frankly don’t need.

      Why not invest $5M in new high speed ferries and $10M in a new West End facility and then provide better training to our customs and immigration staff.

      Like 10
  2. wow says:

    millions already spent and we’re still in the infancy stage?

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  3. Anonymous says:

    They already got a 7 mil., but “project still in infancy,” while “airport bandits” are fully grown and working and probably planning for another 7.

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  4. yolo says:

    We the people don’t not want a airport expansion so please do not waste or money on that project, it will fail like the plane you promise. Use the money the high school and fix it use the money on the road and fix spend it smart not dumb

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    • djs says:

      You are crazy. Use the money and what is your return? The island needs income and less corruption.
      Was thinking WHY not start our own airline– maybe build a tour ship pier— wait wait how about be nice to tourist—- nsw all those ideas are loser ideas and been tried in past– even tried for 7 days in a row? was to hard. So we put in nice people in R’town to be rude to our new guests with stupid question.

    • PRIORITY says:

      His country is literally on fire (the dump has been burning out of control for over a year) and the NPD wants to build a runway extension. Is this intended to help people evacuate to a safer climate or to facilitate arrivals?

      My suggestion is to put the fire out first. Then think about big new shinny projects.

      We need that whistleblower law to prevent the little greedy hands from taking what we have left. I hope the law is retroactive and someone steps forward to claim their $millions that are due to them for reporting what has happened to us.

  5. Good says:

    It’s about time! Let’s get on with it!

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  6. Political Intelligence says:

    $250 million? What if the project goes grossly over budget. Who will be funding this project and at what percentage? Will future generations have to pay for this needless project?

    It is very irritating to know both Myron Walwyn and Andrew Fahie have publicly stated their support for this project.

    Just list amount of other things the government can do with the amount of money that would be thrown at this project.

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    • @PI says:

      If your bum was a square you would s**t brown blocks! IF IF IF!! If we do NOT expand the Airport WE WILL SUFFER!!! If the BVI wants to continue to enjoy the standard of life that we now have, we need to kick tourism into HIGHER GEAR! Further, everyone is saying Financial Services will die but I disagree! It will evolve, it may not be based on volume anymore but the BVIBC is very valuable and will be for a long time. Airlift doesn’t only affect Tourism but it affects financial services and affiliated business. Further, business travel as a result of our financial services product is tourism as well. We need to open our minds and stop the political BS! No matter if it’s VIP, NDP or LMNOP, whoever is elected will have no choice but to expand the airport if they don’t want us to be eating coconuts and drinking seawater for lunch.

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      • Political Intelligence says:

        You’re trying to make a mockery out of my intelligent statement and rhetoric questions, but you’re only making a mockery out of your own self. “If we do NOT expand the Airport WE WILL SUFFER!!!”. That is hat your brain is telling you? How come the majority ain’t suffering now?

        The BVI is not a mass tourism market via land stay. It may be considered moderate with yacht and cruise-ship tourist arrivals tho. The BVI has no major hotels to accommodate the major airport expansion/capacity (if they come), Nor is there any plans for many massive hotels to be built throughout the country. The cost of expanding the airport far outweighs the little benefits. They will be no profitability from the airports as there is none now.

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    • @Political Inteligence says:

      @PI, if the TBLIA development and operations is outsourced to a private venture, the private venture will be responsible for any cost overrun(s).

      • manioc says:

        not so fast. because the airport is outsource to private venture do not mean that gov,t would not be responsible for cost overrun or part of it . cost overrun part can be negotiated. taxpayers can once again be left with a heavy bag to carry on the back of future generations.

  7. Struggling Man says:

    Which first…….. the chicken or the egg ?
    Where do we accommodate the people that fly in on these direct flights ? Even when the closed hotels are back up and running we still have only few hundred rooms available.
    Are these airlines going to fly to the BVI half full……….no way !
    Developed the infrastructure and accommodation first.
    While doing this lets us St Thomas airport until we are ready to support the airlines with passengers…….then developed the airport.

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    • @SM says:

      What comes first is common sense. Would you build a hotel/resort/lodging first then wait for an airport to be built? I guarantee you once a viable plan is produced and it looks like we are serious about getting this Airport expanded, you will see an influx of development, many of which can be ready in time for the new runway. It will take them at least 18 – 24 months to finish it. Further, the current hotels and resorts refuse to invest or expand because they cannot get people in. When will we remove the yampie from our eyes and wake up? Where is our next H.L. Stoutt type visionary with the balls to do what’s needed despite the loud noises. We had this same stupid noise for the Collage, Admin Complex, Noel Lloyd Park, Tortola Pier park etc. Imagine a BVI without the pier park for the cruise ships to come and spend monies across the Territory while everything still ‘mashup’.

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      • @really? says:

        First of all no one ain’t stealing no tourism from NO ONE. If a tourist want to come to the BVI they will come as they have been coming.

        People including locals mostly fly through STT because its cheaper even with the rise globally in travel.

        BVI needs to get more serious about Tourism and stop finding blame on others. STT ain’t tell BVI Government not to develop their roads and not to be more friendly and inviting at the ports of entry. They didn’t make BVI not develop and care for its beaches and historic sites and they definitely didn’t make BVI increase their already high fees.

        Take a honest look at the way other islands market their product and develop their product! BVI got work to do!

    • The observer says:

      Foolishness, we need our own airport so our people can fly into the mainland from Tortola. Look at what happen after the storm St Thomas closed their airport and our people had to fly down to ANTIQUA to fly into America. shame shame shame

  8. nick says:

    everyday I am driving thru baugher bay and every day I am amaze that raw sewage is flooding the has been like that since Irma.poeple are living there.fix the country first,then built an airport.

    Like 20
  9. Airport says:

    20-30 years you will be at this stage saying the same thing. Every time election coming up Y’ALL coming with the same old talk what you going to do and the end of the term nothing done to show for it.

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  10. Hah says:

    Fix the BVI before expanding the airport. If the tourist come to the BVI and ride on roads full of potholes, public bathrooms without running water and muck everywhere the bad publicity would negate all the marketing. Airlines will not come to the BVI if the BVI is not desirable to the potential travellers.

    • Jokes says:

      Fix the BVI with which money? Ask the small businesses here, restaurant, bars, stores, supermarkets how things have been over the past few years and they will tell you. One day we will learn that we are no longer the big kid on the block.

  11. E.Leonard says:

    Though international airlines may be showing interest in starting direct or non-stop flights from major markets to TBLIA, the final decision will come down to consistent passenger load factor (PLF), measure of the capacity use of an airline. It is a key metric in airline operations; it is the ratio of Revenue Passenger Mile (RPM)/Available Seat Mile (ASM); it varies for each airline. For example, the estimated PLF for 2017 for AA, Delta and Jet Blue are 81.9%, 85.6% and 84.3%, respectively. Airlines are constantly looking for and starting new routes, scaling back existing routes or stopping existing routes altogether. Profitable PLF keep airlines airborne.

    Moreover, the airline business is a razor-thin profit margin, capital-intensive and a safety-intensive business. Every airline take off and landing incur a fix cost that must be covered by paying passengers or cargo. Further, airlines must do better than breakeven to stay in business. The length of the runway/airside or how modern the terminal/landside facilities are, are not the major factor that attracts and keeps an airline on a route. It is profitable PLF.

    Whether TBLIA is operated by government or the operations is outsourced to a Public Private Venture (PPV), it comes down to passenger loading. If a profitable PLF can be attained and sustained, airlines will fly a route. Sometimes government has to subsidize passsnger loading to get and keep an airline flying. Hotels must put heads in beds to stay in business and so too airlines have to put butts (paying)in seats to stay airborne.

    • Uno says:

      Uno chatting nonsense about passenger load factor. Keeping that book talk up in C-suites. The people on de ground know what time it is. It is nonstop flight time. People want to embark on planes at London, New York, Toronto, Kingston, Miami, Paris, Rio, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles ……..etc and disembark at Beef Island. Build it and they will come; they not coming because we have not built it. St. Martin, St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Thomas, St. Vincent, Dominica ( thinking about it)…..etc and they flying so too can the BVI.

      • manioc says:

        please check with usvi port authority and see if when they expand st.criox airport the airplane with people came. you will find that the plane came but not with the amount of people to make the project investment worthy. after years of loss they pullout. Mr leonard is right on the money.

      • @Uno says:

        @Uno, nice pipe dream but hope you wake up from your slumber soon.

  12. Waste of time says:

    Tourists are getting tired of the 3rd world BVI infrastructure. It was cute last century but it’s getting tiring. Pretty blue water lapping on white beaches loses its appeal when the stench of raw sewage freely flowing in the streets is common. The lack of reliable water and current, abysmal internet connections, and rude customer service isn’t ecxactly something that will bring tourists in droves. Amazingly, residents of other countries understand the dangers of toxic smoke from burned goods dumps. Strongly recommend BVI look look no and hard at the not so glamorous projects that will benefit locals and in ten tourists in the long run.

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  13. Im sorry says:

    Im sorry. I have not heard anything about the correlation between airport expansion and improving the tourism offerings. How many hotel rooms exist on island and on neighboring islands? If hundreds more people visit where will they stay? Also airport expansion means that operations will have to change. This archaic process of immigration just has to…HAS TO… be dealt with. Incoming passengers in the hundreds can’t wait for an hr or more to get through immigration and outgoing passengers in the hundreds can’t be going through security checks once at a time. One time on a liat flight I was out the door and on the sidewalk the line was so long. So make sure fix operations and career for a more robust tourism product before just arbitrarily expanding and bringing in direct flights or we might have jets with 20 passengers coming. Then we would be truly screwed.

  14. Ausar says:

    You want to bet the fools who are against the expansion have very little to do with tourism?

    I tell ya, those were the same folks who were AGAINST the Pier Park Development. Thank goodness, COMMON SENSE prevailed and the Premier forged ahead with plans to develop.

    Today, thousands flock to our shores ensuring the survivability of those whose interests of earnings are greater than the five-figure annual salaries, that employment with the government, on a median,currently allows.

    Similarly, there are thousands of villas on the ready, for the masses of folks that will come on the jet liners.And more will continue to be built, with the onset of such
    massive crowds!

    It’s just sheer foolishness to read of those who would want to stifle progress in this land.

    Stay with your five- figure a year jobs in a corner somewhere, and let those of us who are interested in earning six-figures a year or more, determine the way forward of economic development for this country!

  15. Really? says:

    Can we see letters of interest or intent, please? As othes have said, airlines are not coming unless there is reliable passenger load factor. IMHO money is better spent having a wold class ferry system linked to airline time tables to STT. Do all the paperwork on the way over.

    Also note that while many other islands do have direct service to the US, in many cases flights are limited to a handful per week in season. Those islands are bigger and have more hotel capacity than here. Nobody seems to evet talk about how many visitirs we get, how many are charter boats, how many are here on villas, how long are they here for, etc. Do we even know our accommodation capacity, current and projected? Tourists fill out those forms but what happens to all that data? That information is vital to making the right decisions but then maybe a big ask to have it collated and analyzed since here we are in 2019 still wondering what happened to the 2010 census results. This is the age of data. Why aren’t we using it?

  16. Wow says:

    No need for airport
    Just a nice welcome will be nice for a change.
    Get that bulldog out of there and welcome with a smile ☺

  17. Sam the man says:

    It’s so predictable to have to listen to this recycled nonsense every election year…..ask yourself two simple questions 1. Do we want to become like St Thomas? The BVI is “natures little secrets” a beautiful oasis of sensitively developed beaches (mostly although CGB needs to be careful with its weak representative) and 2. Would you trust a government that loses $7.2m on an invisible airline to organise a developer for a white elephant $250m air port expansion? Once you have answered those 2 questions the answer is no and focus on the real important priorities instead of touting for more brown envelopes by trying to make the BVI the next Benidorm!

  18. Windy says:

    Tell us which airlines and appropriate spokesperson so we verify that what being said is true ! We’re tired of all the lies.

  19. The time is now says:

    If we are to gain back grounds NOW IS THE TIME!!!

    STT like us barely has rooms most of the people are going sailing.

    They have a half speed airport and moving slow as well. This is the time to catch up.

  20. Too little too late says:

    Airport expansion is a waste of resources. Financial industry on its way out and tourism is going to decline for 2 reasons: #1 lack of basic reliable infrastructure and 2: the pandering to cruise lines and day trippers. The BVI is becoming an alcohol fueled fraternity beach party. Look at White Bay, has been totally bastardize in pursuit on the almighty dollar.
    The BVI has lost its way, last st its focus. Grabbed at too many straws and now nothing to show for it. Invest in the PEOPLE who live here, make their existence rise above borderline 3rd world conditions.

  21. limit says:

    look look , let his rich friends bil da air port cause da r da ones gonna use it da most to park all their private jets , we don ge bun.

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