BVI News

Airport expansion more important now – Premier

By Davion Smith, BVI News Journalist

Nearly 90 days after Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in the BVI, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith has announced that he plans to revive the highly-controversial airport expansion project.

The $153 million project will see the runway at the Terrence B Lettsome Airport being extended from 4645 feet to about 7100 feet so larger aircrafts can land in the territory.

But, even months before the hurricanes, several critics including some members of government and the parliamentary opposition described the project as ill-timed; adding that the money to fund the expansion could be used elsewhere.

Fast-forwarding to present when the government is scrambling to find funds to rebuild the BVI, Premier Smith argued that expanding the airport will be better for the territory if there are future disasters like Irma.

He said his National Democratic Party administration needs to ensure there is more efficient air access to the BVI.

“One of the lessons learned from the hurricane is that emergency access in and out of the islands is critical in the event of a hurricane or other emergency.”

“Precious time was lost after Irma in getting flights in and out of the BVI through regional hubs because the runway at our airport is not long enough to accommodate longhaul jets,” Premier said at a United Nations pledging conference held in New York yesterday.

He continued: “We intend to extend the runway to ensure this never happens again and that direct emergency access from and to the US, Europe, and Latin America are guaranteed for evacuation and relief purposes.”

The Premier, who is also Minister of Finance, said his government will also upgrade BVI seaports to reinforce accessibility.

“These measures will give residents and visitors a greater sense of security in the future and instill confidence in hoteliers to rebuild,” he said.

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