BVI News

Gov’t discovers a way to extend airport runway longer and millions cheaper than NDP’s proposal

The VIP government said it has found a way to extend the TB Lettsome International Airport runway to a longer distance and for millions of dollars cheaper than what the previous NDP government had proposed.

Premier Andrew Fahie said they were presented with this option by Brakkam Aviation Management — a global transportation-management consulting firm that the BVI Airports Authority (BVIAA) hired to assist with ‘decision-making and planning’.

He said Brakkam considered options for extending or reorienting the runway and even constructing an alternative runway altogether. It also considered the costs for land reclamation versus options that did not involve reclamation.

Two options, 3 to 5-year completion date

“The consultant has recommended an option that will allow us to build a new runway without much land reclamation. This will allow for the construction of a 9,100 linear foot (LF) runway at an estimated probable cost of $183.78 million. A shorter runway of 7,250 feet would cost approximately $150.65 million,” Fahie told the House of Assembly last Friday.

“Avoidance or minimisation of land reclamation presents the lowest cost and shortest timetable for delivery,” the Premier added.

He continued: “This entire project, should we decide to proceed on this option, will take three to five years from start to finish including financing, design, and construction of the new runway, and the ancillary improvements to the taxiway, aircraft parking apron and passenger terminal, among other project tasks.”

The previous government’s proposal

Before the departure of the previous NDP government from office, the public was told that roughly $153 million will be used to expand the airport runway from 4,645 feet to about 7,100 feet.

But, according to Premier Fahie, when the new BVIAA board took office back in July 2019, they met documents proposing to extend the existing runway to a shorter 6,145 feet for $203 million. That option also involved land reclamation.

Considerations are being made to extend the airport runway so larger aircraft can land in the territory. This would then present an opportunity for more viable connections to the US mainland and Europe, therefore encouraging more visitors and investors to the territory.

“We need to get the direct flights and reliable flights that do not involve lengthy transfers and excessive transfers. If we do not do this, we will lose tourism market share to other regional destinations with easier access,” the Premier reasoned.

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22 Comments

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  1. #1 Pilot says:

    People please, please people, do not be fooled by some paid Consultant coming in here to give us their version of what they’ve been paid to say. Finding a document proposing to cost $203 million and planning to implement what’s in that document are two different stories.

    I wish we could stop playing around with numbers and with people’s minds. For example we can report a 7000 foot runway (available for landing) but the overall length of the runway can be 9000 feet (the extra length used for over run and for undershooting). So we can report whatever numbers we want…. to appeal to our base. Please guys . Do not be hood winked. Hearing one side of the story only is never good.

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  2. The Way says:

    Will this new way cost you the Hans Creek a fisheries protected area?

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  3. People says:

    The airport extension is needed.

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  4. Someone else for governor says:

    I’ve got an idea to increase tourism .. open the borders!! At least put a plan together with a date so those PLANNING vacations can PLAN a BVI vacation vs every other island who is currently taking reservations at this very moment !!!!! Wow that doesn’t cost any money !! And it would work!

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  5. Jane says:

    An airport is an eyesore, and in this covid era it would appear to be a money pit too. Let St Thomas have the mess, the noise and pollution. Set up fast ferries, extend Immigration & Customs hours.

    Distribute the $183 million to every Belonger if you want – I trust them to spend it better than politicians.

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  6. My 3cents says:

    The only way this can work, is if government moves the current run way completely and reclaims some land in the area where the planes approach the run way by the boat slip.

    All the roads we know are going to have to be re routed and they have to make a new path for the run way heading from the slip area that’s going to run parallel to the current unofficial drag strip……

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    • William says:

      Roads have to move why? II have seen runway going over the highway. Some serious engineers are needed not moving of roads.

  7. Ferry says:

    We excel at ferry and taxi. Let STT be the hub and ensure a beautiful smooth transit including evening ferries (Peter Island does this beautifully)

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    • @Ferry says:

      Agree. Let STT and SJU handle that… we won’t have enough traffic to justify the expense of expanding the airport, especially post Covid. Ease of getting from SJU and STT to the BVI is something that needs to be looked at. The afternoon scheduling of the ferries from STT need to be tightened and we need a 6pm ferry. We also need a 9pm flight from SJU.

  8. VIP says:

    You are beginning to worry me. We can’t afford anymore financial nonsense. And we don’t need to hear the next government who takes over after you claiming that VIP didn’t pay $8M in debt, etc. I am starting to get the feeling that you guys are starting the distraction game. You are going to distract us with nonsense like gambling and marijuana, and nothing will happen of any real note to benefit the people of the Virgin Islands. Just more missing money. Furthermore, it sounds more like an opportunity for businesses to launder money, not really an opportunity for real financial gain for the people. I am still on your side, but I am really concerned.

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  9. Other shoe will drop says:

    Just wait until they announce it will be built and financed by the Chinese. Just look what they have done throughout the Caribbean, taking land and facilities when the loan defaults.

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  10. Rubber Duck says:

    Would it not be cheaper to build a new airport on Anegada and have fast ferry boats to VG and Tortola. Has this been looked at?

  11. Disaster says:

    Why don’t the Government get through the mess that was the BVI Airways deal before dropping millions into another airport related potential disaster. Some comments here should be considered by Government, such as using St Thomas as a hub with a fast ferry and later opening times for immigration and customs. All other Caribbean islands with major airports serve as a hub for flights continuing to other islands, so unless this is the intention they are going to wait until never to recoup that money, because I cannot see direct flights ending in BVI being that busy to make it profitable.

    • Limejuice says:

      I agree. We ave a falling population of30,000. We do need direct flights, but from where and how many passengers and how many flights?
      I’ve flown from Miami directly to Beef, back in C Romney’s time. Please Look at London City airport or Minorca airport. Runways of less than 6,000 ft. By the time this is completed, what will be the specs of the medium regional planes?
      Leave Trans-Continental planes to the big boys!

  12. bill cook says:

    as a tourist/visitor i would love to see it lengthened so we can get to beef island so much easier ie: not going through San Juan ( expensive connecting shuttle and St Thomas with their $10 per person for a two minute packed in like sardine ride to the ferry dock). Another issue is the ferry schedule, it is frustrating to have a limited time frame for rides to Tortola, we literally have to land at SST by 2pm to make the ferry. heaven forbid our plane gets delayed. Here in the northeast USA we have ferries into the evening as late as 8pm (Block Island) which is half the size of Tortola…..

  13. Tafari Zharr says:

    Looking backwards, The BVI has acted as a “Gateway” serving as a hub for neighboring islands via air sea; So nothing wrong with what ought to be “The Goodness” to strive for since others including Antigua, US Virgin Islands, St Martin, Anguilla, Barbados, Cayman, Puerto Rico to name a few; have sincerely for many decades benefited from (in terms of travel dollars, employment incomes, vacations, medical stays and services, hospital deliveries etc etc;) and having over time taken away potentially growth opportunities from the BVI’s own sometimes economic development misses.

    Looking forward, any strategies to get ahead an economy where the BVI flourish at the expense of patronage from our neighbors, families, friends, corporations, tourists, and and curiosity of counterparts from neighboring islands and nations That these considerations should be rightfully explored- it’s been too long the BVI has allowed others to feed off of their kindnesses of its peoples, the time is now for us to dust ourselves off, rethinking and reframing instead of refraining from helping our exponential interests to financially matter!

    Immediately, and amid COVID-19’s statistics- sometimes immeasurably” economic highs and lows it’s measurably best to Exhaustively examine cost analysis daily with major airlines paying close attention to Best practices for growth as they advance back into the skies; re-examining their studies into how their futures Approached in apparent terms (focusing on nominal and real terms) of profitability, good governance and passenger policy – certainly looking forward an arrival departure optimization is necessary- but it’s been broken for so long it may be better to either get the best deal so that the “new dealers – new party” don’t get caught out there drowning in the mud of greedy vultures dressed as Venture Capitalists.

    A runway needs upkeep and an airport needs air travelers- and air, sea, cruise vessels need passengers; passengers need employers who can cut them checks not pink slips or furloughs. People pay their bills and then they feel freer to travel; when travel is a want it means needs have been met!

    So the BVI needs to spend money to make money But hindsight is 20/20 let’s look to the future whilst giving every potential spender more than good reasons BUT great purposes to Connect, be in transit, one day visit, overnight or repeatedly visit the BVI; Great Restaurants, Great Attitude from Locals, Great Fresh Air, Beautiful Beaches, Great Hosting Events.

    It’s no longer Great enough to be a Virgin. What matters is how BVI treat their own and how Hospital we are willing to stretch or not stress ourselves!

    There is no ONE BVI without ALL-AH-WE!

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