BVI News

Gov’t finds potential airport investors, holding talks

Government has found potential investors to develop the Terrence B Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island.

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith announced on Thursday that his government is now holding talks with these possible investors as well as the BVI Airports Authority.

“There are ongoing discussions with persons or groups who are interested [in the project],” said Premier Smith at a press briefing yesterday, April 12.

While making the statement, Dr Smith said he was unable to divulge any additional information on the matter, right now.

And according to the Premier, he is ‘keen’ to see the airport developed.

“We recognize its importance to the country in the development of our economy here in the BVI,” he said.

20-year takeover

The expansion project is estimated to cost $250 million and will see the airport’s runway being extended from 4,645 feet to about 7,100 feet.

Other plans for the facility include development works to modernize the airport’s terminal.

The Premier announced roughly three months ago that government was hunting investors for the undertaking.

He said in exchange for their investment, the government may hand over control of the airport for at least two decades.

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  1. Albion says:

    Hopefully the investors can finally get the security machines at the departure gate fixed.

  2. Laura says:

    Airports are attractive assets for different classes of investors. They are complex businesses in an increasingly competitive environment. More and more focus is placed on the innovation on the ground to deliver a good experience to travellers at low cost and high returns. The world’s investors are searching for opportunities, does the BVI provide these opportunities? Investors want the big numbers, the big airlines and everything that goes with it – are we prepared for the risks that this entails?

    • Albion says:

      Right, but airports make money two ways: selling landing slots to airlines, and leasing shop space to retailers.

      Both require a high volume of air traffic demand to make money. It still costs way more to fly direct to EIS than to fly into STT and catch a ferry. That will never change. I don’t think any investor is going to bend over backwards to invest in TBL airport.

  3. Well sah says:

    All of a sudden airport talk again..
    Is that what the recovery money for?

    • SMH says:

      Yes, the recovery money is for the Airport that’s why they’re seeking investors..

      I swear!! SMFH!

    • Struggling Man says:

      Beware………..this is more than likely another trick…….forget the airport for at least 5 years until we have the infrastructure back to where it needs to be !

      • Concerned says:

        I could not agree more!!! It is the infrastructure that needs physical work. The airport only needs to be properly run. Can Dr. Smith?NDP never learn?

  4. Huh says:

    Another flaw like the prospect reef deal??

  5. But says:

    first, we must seek and vet “honest” investors, while being alert to international crooks.

  6. sam the man says:

    This almost doubling of the length of the runway is not needed….there are far more important other infrastructure projects to focus on first and get right rather than this “pie in the sky” dream. The reason the BVI is natures little secrets is precisely because it doesn’t have a St Thomas size runway and larger planes can land! Also consider how the environment would be wreaked if yet more land reclamation is undertaken, the coral reefs have already suffered hugely over the past few decades and the successive Governments just don’t care about it….they will do when there are no good sites left to snorkel!

    • Reality says:

      What about the state of the roads, sea defenses, ferry terminals, drainage, sewage etc surely these should be prioritized – not this unpopular and unnecessary airport expansion….for the next few years it’ll be way too big anyway going by the big drop in tourists…..

      • Albion says:

        Pre-Irma the busiest entry port into the BVI was… West End ferry terminal. But instead of spending small bucks fixing that up for the biggest possible increase in tourist arrivals, they are trying to spend 20 times that figure on a new runway hoping for a small increase in arrivals.

        Makes no sense at all.

        • Stuffed pockets says:

          More opportunity to stuff pockets with ill gotten gains on the back of the BVI taxpayer and their heirs. Oooops, did I say that?

  7. Unhappy!! says:

    Expanding the airport won’t increase tourism unless Immigration decides to start being nice to the tourists. Many sailors arriving for the Spring Regatta had stories of harassment and nastiness at the hands of both Immigration and Customs. Five years or so ago the Tourist Board ran customer service programs for the different government agencies and for a year and a half afterwards you were actually greeted with a smile; that program needs to be revived if we are to have any return tourists! As an investor I would want a guarantee from government that their employees understand that they are selling a welcome to the BVI product, not what they are selling now which is we don’t want you or your money.

    • Me says:

      Good comment! Customs and Immigration can do a lot for tourism. Some of these officers really need more training

    • Alone says:

      True that , just last week a woman and her husband told me they where so happy to be a part of the re building post Irma and they where. met at the Pier Park ferry terminal by a very rude lady officer . Both her and her husband said good morning and this lady never answer she just started asking what are you here for?how long do you intend to stay here , oh my , look ,at this time you should be saying welcome to the BVI then you continue with the mandatory questions .The couple indicated that they begun to get a feeling that where not needed here. And guess what they said they where never coming back… is too many……..

  8. Disinterested says:

    BVI Airways was a model “art of the deal” negotiated agreement, was it not? There was transparency and accountability for the $7.2M give-a-way. Residents have gotten concrete return for their scare $7.2M tax dollars; they are enjoying the convenience, joy…….etc of direct flights from MIA to EIS. The details of this model deal were kept close to the chest and residents were filled with joy.

    Based on the past negotiation performance, residents should be elated and jump with great joy of having the airport outsourced for 20+ years. VI residents need to get the 411 on any agreement before it happens.

    Ok. What comes first the chicken or the egg? I’m visitor A and just landed at TBLIA. But surprisingly the roads are in poor/deteriorated condition, electrical supply is erratic, telecommunications is expensive and poor quality, healthcare?, education?, erratic water supply, raw sewage running in the street, crime rising exponentially, cost of living skyrocketing, ferry service?, limited visitor facilities, deficient rooms…..etc. What is the priority again?
    Is the Done Deal airport expansion for the public good or for political legacy?

  9. Sherlock says:

    Not this again. It was a terrible idea due to our financial status when it was initially brought up and it still is today.

  10. Sunnyvi says:

    WTF @**! .?.. we need the basics first; homes, water, electric. Then good roads, communication, ferry’s. See online games to arrange infrastructure. Then, and only then, think of selling our souls for an unwanted airport. Is this their pension?

  11. Reeson says:

    ..why when they get the $ is this the first thing they think of? Bad idea with pre-Irma economy…terrible idea afterward when so much needed to be done for the islanders

  12. See says:

    Totally ignorant idea . Always was and still is . Only benefit is to someones inflated ego
    The country will not see one benefit with thos project . Major airlines will not be coming here ..hate to break the news. Puerto Rico , St Thomas , St Maarten .. providing more than enough area lift capacity . Instead try to ensure the ferry service is state of the art and provide expanded hours so people dont have to overnight St Thomas for instance. How about handling immigtation on the ferries as well … or is that just too much of a good thing ? With this country’s track record for projects this airport idea needs to stop now . There is a reason the UK has insisted on being somewhat of a watchdog over our spending baf habits .

  13. watcher says:

    If, big if, the airport expansion can be funded by a 20 year management agreement it could be a very good thing for the country. We will not be getting hordes of low budget tourists because we cannot compete for those. But we might get more of the high end tourists who are the ones who come to the BVI and are the ones we want.

    But no upfront payments at all with taxpayers money. No one wants another BVI Airways fiasco.

    • Excited? says:

      REALLY.. High end tourist don’t go to places that has no infrastructure, no places to stay, have bad attitudes toward them, bad attitudes toward their own. If we had the nicest, first class airport in the still have to deal with the nasty (not all but some) unwelcoming officials at the airport. And I must say there are two officers at the Pier Park are God awful. Get an arrogant, screwed up face taxi driver that overcharges. Drive the inferior roads dotted with mini garbage heaps beside every dumpster, untidy island to get from the airport to where? Where they going to stay? Drive through Road Town through raw sewer in the streets and being overwhelmed by the smell of sewer. Get to the grocery, where fighting, cursing school children run rampant. Got to a restaurant to be greeted again with a screw up face and POOR service and overcharged again. Ok, so get to a place to stay. Place is nice and okay but certainly not high end…no reliable internet or phone service, the electric will go off at some point during a week or two stay, no reliable town water, no Cable TV. Ok, so go to a beach on our trashed roads, see men pissing on the side of the road and cussing you because you did notice them. Dirty, trash all about, hurricane debris all about, no public bathrooms, no lifeguards or emergency services if needed.
      UNTIL the very poor infrastructure is modernized and sustainable, UNTIL the islands are cleaned up and maintained and I am not talking about just Hurricane debris, UNTIL we, all of us, are welcoming and truly (not just for $$ you can get at the moment) want tourist. Until, the laws of the country are enforced and not made and put back in the cupboard and locked away, UNTIL our government is held accountable, Until we all look at the man in the mirror and bring about attitude changes for the sake of humanity, all humanity, not black, not white, not purple, not yellow, not down island, not up island, not American, not European, not Asian…ALL. UNTIL we can come together as ONE and treat others as you want to be treated. UNTIL the powers that be treat everyone equal …Nothing is going to change no more than the BVI will ever be a high end destination. Wake up BVI, we have been given a second chance, we have been given the opportunity to change everything for now and the futures of our children and their children. It is up to us and the world is watching and waiting.

      • Sam the man says:

        well put Excited? but why is it that none of the NDP members young and old just don’t get this? and just seem to casually drift along with no real vision or plan or purpose? the “No Direction Party” NDP clearly intends to continue to live up to its unofficial name now….

      • real seekabay says:

        Your post is so real.

  14. Wes says:

    Expect government to do absolutely no due diligence and sell us up the river for a bag of magic beans.

    Lets see how many millions they will take from the treasury and give to scamps with not a care in the world.

    UK..send help and deliver us from these leaches Please!

  15. Really says:

    Why not focus on the small things first: the roads, the sewage, the internet, electricity, customer service etc.before we try to build a big airport?
    And have we now changed our focus from “Nature’s Little Secrets” to “Nature’s Trampling Ground”?

  16. Wake up people says:

    The storms were to stop the Chinese from getting the airport deal and get UK in here in large numbers. The deal is going to be an openly UK firm or a firm fronting for a UK one. The UK agenda is no different than the Chinese. The UK is using more finesse but the agenda is the same. The history of the Chinese are to take over your land and resources by being economic hitmen and population infiltrators of providing cheap labour, local births and possible interrelationships. On the other hand the UK plan is already set in stone centuries ago. It is not UK coming to takeover the BVI, but a special group from UK, who do not care a rats*** as to the colour of any race on this planet. This group care only about their D*A survival and control over peoples. We all know what I am talking about but to afraid to say what this brotherhood is about. They have infiltrated some of us BVIslanders and expats telling us lies through the non-profit organisations targeting the influential men and women to join them in rotary, lions, zonta, and the lists go on. Be wise as serpents is a book you should read.

  17. stew like beef says:

    when they extend the airport we will be like it was and is in St T….a transshipment point for the drugs…..guaranteed….sadly
    I remember St T before the coke…………..lower murder rates, lower firearm around..safer….More G-d in the home….and the isle.

  18. Lessont says:

    When one does not learn from their mistakes and. Try to be bull headed, that is willful. When the airport goes in private hands for two decades what will the government get from the deal? We like to follow what others do.. How much traffic will we have in and out of Beef Island? Asking because looking at Puerto Rico and St. Thomas next door, what big planes will come except for private jets. Are we considering with all the little cays around the problem for big jets to line up for landing. Hope a good study is done to prevent a disaster.

  19. Blar says:

    Election coming up………we the people need to speak up or shut up we can’t keep falling for the same trap. Stop voting Parties and put in People who cares and change them every election…….

  20. E. Leonard says:

    Airlines/airport operations are labour, capital, safety, razor-thin profit margin…….etc intensive beasts. Airlines make money through either passengers or cargo or a combination of both. Airports, on the other hand, make money through 1) airport use(landing fees, gates…..etc), 2)fees, 3)rent and retail concessions, ie, restaurants and shops, 4)leasing out land, 5)parking fees, 6)rental car spaces…..etc.

    Moreover, the revenue streams above are typical at medium-large airports. However, TBLIA is a small airport with limited revenue streams. The current working estimate/investment to upgrade both the air and land sides of TBLIA is ~$250M. Consequently, to recoup this investment+profit the TBLIA operations will have to be outsourced for 2-3 decades. Generally, investors set minimum hurdle rates for investment dollars, ie, 15%, 20%,…..etc. This may be a challenge at TBLIA. Further, TBLIA operational cost must be competitive with other regional airports, eg, Cyril E. King in the near by USVI…….etc.

    Further, will TBLIA outsourcing and upgrading be a public private venture (PPV)? Will it receive any public funding? Other than improving airlift availability for locals and visitors and improving destination competiveness, will government receive any direct revenue from TBLIA operators?

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