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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