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Gov’t submits application for airport development, to engage public with meeting

Government has submitted an application to the Town and Country Planning Department to move forward with plans to develop the Terrance B Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island.

The Office of Premier made that revelation in a media release on Thursday, January 10.

Further talks about the development are expected to go public next Thursday, January 17, with a meeting with residents to “discuss” government’s application.

According to the final draft of the NDP government’s Recovery and Development Plan, the multimillion-dollar development will see the “expansion of the [airport] runway to 7,100 feet along with the expansion of the apron and terminal building, through public-private partnership (an investor deal), where government will manage security and air traffic control while the private firm will finance, build and operate the airport for a period of 25-30 years.”

It is not clear whether government has made any headway in securing an investor for the undertaking, which is expected to cost some $250 million.

READ: Airport expansion will progress before I demit office, says Premier

News of governments application for the development as well as news of the upcoming public meetings come months after Premier Dr D Orlando Smith promised that the airport development will see some progress before his time as government leader ends.

Dr Smith’s premiership is expected to end around April 16, the deadline for the 2019 General Elections to be held.

NDP Chairman Myron Walwyn, VIP Chairman Andrew Fahie, PVIM leader Ronnie Skelton are all persons vying to become Dr Smith’s immediate successor as premier.

Copyright 2019 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

52 Comments

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  1. In ah nutshell says:

    The Government keeps the cost of paying Fire, Security and Air Traffic employees for 25-30 Years. An investor spends a lot of money on our airport and then raises the price so high on landing, parking and fees that the price of a ticket is still not affordable for 25-30 years. BVIslander, resident and tourist fly into St.Thomas and take a ferry for 25-30 years to save money.

    You trying to do to much. Is it not possible to focus on the runway and apron alone for now? Do we really need a bigger terminal (brick and mortor government) or better technology to manage processing people. Got to be the same people who advise you on BVI Airways now advising on the Airport.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You can expand the airport and or enhance the ferry system but until there is a complete overhaul of the customs and immigration process it will do no good. The custom and immigration employees need to be trained in how to be polite and pleasant. The “white tax” ( environmental tax) needs to be applied to everyone or be eliminated. When people arrive on island there should be equal processing of belongers as well as visitors. Do not make the visitors wait until all belongers are processed and then start visitors. Until this is done enhancing anything is useless

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      • nonsense says:

        You are a fool. It is not a white tax at all, black people that are visiting also pay. All countries have an immigration line separate for their own citizens. I am white and your posts always come over so racist. If you live here I think you should leave.

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        • @nonsence says:

          First it is a white tax. 90% of the people charged the tax are white visitors. Second, the ones hurting the environment the most are the residents of the Territory. Thus you want the visitor to pay for the damage done by the locals. Last, yes all countries have separate lines for citizens and visitors. In those countries, the lines are handled and treated equal. In the BVI there are 2 lines but the immigration officers clear all citizens before the visitor is handled. These are racist practices that damage and will destroy tourism in the Territory

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          • hello says:

            You still didn’t get it. your stats are wrong. This country is filled with other Caribbean Citizens who make up the 30% of the visitors. BVIslanders make up 50%. The remaining 20% is people like you (living here and complaining about everything), and the visitors. I travel quite often and only a very few times is the local line cleared before the other line. This is often when only one officer is at the desks. Whenever there is more than one officer, one officer attends the local line while the other deals with the non-residents.

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        • Facts says:

          The UK does not have a separate line for its own citizens.

    • Squirl says:

      Exactly. The Premier is acting like the airport is his cash machine. Were there any kickbacks or finders paid on the $7.2 that we lost? Is it true that the Romney family gets paid everytime a cruise ship lands in the BVI? Does the current Premier expect the same payola for our airport?

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    • Biggie says:

      The Premier gone sick in his head. Is someone blackmailing him to do this?

    • Lmao says:

      Once again no due diligence or even common sense. Let’s assume it costs 300 million and the concession is granted for 30 years. The concessionaire will have to generate 20 – 25 million a year to cover his costs and make a profit. At today’s passenger rates that will add about $500 per ticket.

      Does the Premier even know what the annual arrival and departure traffic is and forecast to be? Does the Premier even have an airline commitment to land here if we build it? Does the Premier even know what types of airplanes could currently use the extended runway and how that matches to the range they can fly? A transatlantic passenger jet needs more than 7000 feet.

      • Rubber Duck says:

        Plus interest on the loan over the thirty years. At say 4% that’s another $12 million a year ( decreasing as the debt is paid. ) So it needs to generate say $40 million a year to start and if that initial high interest charge is smoothed or deferred, total interest charges increase.

        If traffic increased to 2 million passengers a year from the current 5-600,000, the $40 million is only $20 per passenger. That is very viable and very achievable.

        2 million passengers would not happen overnight and we would need more hotel rooms, more boats and better ground transport to deal with them.

        But it is achievable.

        • Lmao says:

          So , using your math the arrival and departure tax in the first year would add $80 per ticket? Man, who can afford that? What if the arrival numbers don’t increase but decrease? Then we mights be paying $100 more each way. That in itself may reduce arrivals even more. Then we be paying $200 to arrive or leave on the plane. Is it worth it now?

        • Anonymous says:

          You need to clean up, repair, put in sustainable infrastructure, fix the toxic smoke sites, provide water for your people, provide half a-** decent and affordable telecom, stop the grocers from ripping off people, fix the roads, fix the schools, fix the sewer, invest and fix the ferry system. Then think about something else. Big jets are not going to fly in here anyway…they can not make $$ doing that. Why did little American Eagle pull out of here… Because it was not profitable. If a small jet can make it how in hell do you think the big ones will. Tickets will not be affordable for the regular Joe. Government, please, stop this BS and catch yourself before even thinking about airport…

      • LOL says:

        Preach it – nobody will listen to you and me. Any investor is going to look for what 5 % of his investment? And the way the contract is the are guaranteed a certain amount so we the taxpayers pay for it.

    • Said says:

      There are 3 glaring things that should be priority and an airport extension ain’t one of them!
      1:- Roads fixed properly not skimmed over again
      2:- Properly working sewage system, raw sewage being pumped into Sea Cows Bay is shameful.
      3:- More police and a zero tolerance on crime and drug running.

      Any party pledging to do these things within a year would win the election hands down.

      • Concerned says:

        “Said” is absolutely correct!!! Start at the bottom and work toward a goal, not at the top to get glory and try to fill pockets.
        In addition, this is just what China is looking for world wide. Once they get they get their hooks in BVI landers will control nothing. Those that want to get rich at any cost will remain in and do the bidding of Cjina

    • Concerned says:

      You can do all you want to bring people in, but without roads water, sewer and reliable electric, why will they want to come. More than what the BVI can handle comes in now.

  2. Ausar says:

    Thank You, Dr. Smith!

    It is time that this project comes to fruition!

    So much naysayers were against this project. But with the Financial industries going bust within a year or so, this country really needs this expansion to improve the tourism product.

    No longer can we wait.No longer shall we wait!

    Let us forge ahead in making this country, tourism-friendlier.

    And this airport expansion will do just that!

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    • Mrs Smith says:

      A whistleblower law would stop this nonsense. I’m voting for the candidates that agree to adopt this new law.

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    • VICKIEt says:

      The leader of this place stop sleeping to totally blind. Now is not the time to focus on expanding the Air Port The infrastructure and the schools he should focus on when the tourists come to visit they do not want to come to a s**tty place no roads plus walking in part of the capital smell like s**t. Is this man getting a///// of this. We have to get this man and his NDP out before they bury us alive.

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  3. Sam the man says:

    We do nor need yet another airport expansion the focus must be fixing our schools, sewage, roads, ferry terminals, clinics, fire stations, police stations, government buildings, reliable electric supply and assisting people rebuild their buildings/hotels etc. The deluded DR is just desperate for yet another big brown envelope before he rides off into the sunset after his tenure of abject failure….

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    • Cromwell says:

      As long as the invested takes the full commercial risk there really is no downside, and, by full commercial risk, I mean no counter guarantees by the government in terms of plane and passenger numbers throughout the deal period. If no, or, too few airlines use the airport, that needs to be the investors risk, not the government’s.

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      • In ah nutshell says:

        In 10 to 15 years tourism may be all that we have. If an investor controls the airport they will control the country. We need the airport so our hand can be easily forced back into subsidising.

        When someone controls your income you call them boss

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    • Hmmm says:

      Did you not read the article. This is a private development investment. In other words they went and found someone to expand the airport as they do not have the Finances. This was in the pipeline before Irma destroyed the infrastructure.

      • Napoleon says:

        Who is paying these clowns to pursue this project? Which property developer?
        We need to rebuild our schools because they are broken.
        We need to build our roads because they are broken.
        We need to rebuild our electricity and water infrastructure because it has never worked reliably.
        We need to get faster, less expensive and more reliable internet services.
        We need to put out the fire at the dump first.

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  4. BuzzBvi says:

    Recovery to Development plan Of The Virgin islands

    Airports: Development
    Long-term development of airports aims to enable easier and greater air access to the Virgin Islands to revitalise the economy and the tourism sector as well as to facilitate effective disaster response and recovery through the following projects:
    1. 1) Expansion of the EIS runway to 7,100 feet along with the expansion of the apron and Terminal building, through Public Private Partnership (PPP), where GOVI will manage security and air traffic control while the private firm will finance, build and operate the Airport for a period of 25-30 years (see also section on Public-Private Collaboration); and
    2. 2) Upgrade of the VIG to a new building with an expanded customs and immigration facility, and departure area to accommodate duty-free shops.

    The GOVI has started the dialogue on the following projects:
    1. 1) Expansion of the TB Lettsome International Airport, which will secure international air access to and from the Territory thus supporting the growth of the financial services and tourism sectors and easily connect residents and the business population to all corners of the globe. The envisioned arrangement is some form of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) whereby the selected vendor will finance the building of the airport and operate it for a period of time to achieve an agreed return on investment and then turn it over to Government (see Infrastructure section for more details).

    • Cromwell says:

      And what happens when they don’t produce the desired return on investment, does the invested swallow the loss, because, that is the commercial risk they need to take, not the BVI.

    • LOL says:

      “to achieve an agreed return on investment” – that says it all, if they don’t make enough profit the tax payer has to come up with the money. So the risk is ours.

  5. ndp heckler says:

    Just another political stunt

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  6. True says:

    Are they f***ing joking, $7.2mil down the drain now before they get voted out they want to start with all this s**t again.

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  7. White says:

    Why only know you are coming to the people to get their views?. Is it because Election is close. People do not fall for this election gimmick. He should have consulted long before to the people.

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  8. Not so ...... says:

    Cart before the horse as always with these clowns! Build up our infrastructure (sewer, roads, electricity), communications, education, hospital, fire dept, social services, etc, etc. You do not have the hotel rooms to handle more aircraft. Financial services faces uncertainty as well, I just don’t get the mentality of this Government.

    I keep saying, spend money on a couple of good ferries that run between STT and here with immigration and customs on board. Build and upgrade the terminals at West End, Road Town, and in VG to handle these passengers. Utilize what STT already has built and keep the BVI as the unique gem people want to come to.

    With the current state of the union I just do not see a private party investing in such a project. A great ferry service (2x boats) and brand new state of the art ferry terminals would not even cost 10% of an airport expansion and be considerably better for the BVI as a whole.

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  9. Lawdie says:

    Is this the reason why the most senior officer at the airport do not come to work and busy setting up their private business? No it makes sense.

  10. Lulu says:

    What about tourist accommodation ?

  11. Political Observer (PO) says:

    The NDP government is in a lame duck status, limping into a constitutionally due election due by 16 April 2019 yet it is still pushing major construction projects, including the TBLIA extension. At this 11th hour, the NDP should be in a caretaker status, focusing on routine operations and emergencies. The NDP had 8 years to flesh out projects and time is up. As such, any major project should be the province of the new incoming government, which could be the NDP. This TBLIA extension is clearly a legacy project for the Dr. Hon Premier D. Orlando Smith-led government.

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  12. VI says:

    Why not extend the runway 10,000 feet than 7100 feet it will be much cheaper now in the long run.

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    • Ole Joe says:

      You remember the old saying?

      Fool me once, shame on you.
      Fool me twice and you can misspend $7.2m on the airline.
      Fool me three times and you can build your school wall.
      Fool me four times and I will ignore our busted schools.
      Fool me five times and I will ignore our unreliable and $$$$ power.
      Fool me six times and I will ignore our expensive internet.
      Fool me seven times and I will pretend I don’t need running water.
      Fool me eight times and I will pretend that our roads are ok.
      Fool me nine times and I will ignore the fire at our dump.
      Fool me ten times and you can spend $50mm on the pier.
      Fool me yet again and you can call me a fool.

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      • Judge says:

        Best post ever!

      • @Ole Joe says:

        Great post. Sorry but I need to call you a fool. The people just accept all these close door deals. The citizens do not participate. There is no oversight. The Territory operates with elected dictators who rob the Treasury at will and no one knows or says anything. It’s the ignorance and stupidity of the citizens that allows this to happen

        • LOL says:

          Exactly nobody even questioned anything I posted above that if this people don’t make the income they are promised we the taxpayers pay for it – but nobody cares. I am so frustrated because I am one of the citizens who will pay for it and my children and your children – but the BVI – electorate is either so ignorant or so foolish – to think if I vote for me cousin he is doing something for me – LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE, but mey cousin might build a retaining wall for me (ok – I assume that where the problem is with the EHS school- wall – LOL)

  13. Sage says:

    Attention government!!

    It’s time the people of the BVI get proper roads to drive on. I mean roads that last 10 years or more. Not the ones that last from rainfall to rainfall! Hire the right people for the job!

    The road by the magistrate’s court needs more than urgent attention at this time. The hurricanes did not destroy that road, they simply made it worse.

    We need to stop inhaling the stench from raw sewage around the island too. Just take a walk around Road Town, or drive around with your windows rolled down to get a good sense of what pedestrians (residents and tourists) have to endure.

    What about ensuring the schools are rebuilt and ready for September 2019.

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  14. Jamie says:

    Who are they kidding!!….this government couldn’t even build a simple wall around a school on time or on budget!

    • Jobs says:

      We need to create the new economy here first. We need to attract new businesses that will create jobs for people that will soon not have government jobs due to the lack of income from the FS.

      We need to create a friendly place for businesses to grow. We need reliable electricity service. We need faster, cheaper and more reliable internet services. We need to clean up the place and create better roads. We need to create better schools so the next generation of BVIslanders can compete and be more welcome by the world economy. Our poor schools today are keeping our people down. I don’t think the NDP did this intentionally, but it is easier to lead an uneducated man than a wise man.

      We don’t need a new airport. The terminal that we currently have is greatly underutilized and the runway extension will only benefit the rented private jets that real estate developers are hoping will start to come here so they can sell more of our land.

      We should focus on enhancing the arrival experience by sea. Modern ferries and better trained and welcoming customs and immigration officials would be a great start!

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      • Mr Sensible says:

        The Economy of the BVI is in decline and it will get worse. FS and tourism are are limited because in short BVI is not an easy place to get to. The airport extension will allow large commercial jets not small private jets to bring people in on direct flights. When Irma hit and the FS decamped they realises how easy it is to fly directly to other islands from the EU.

        The tourist industry on BVI is limited. Cruise ship passenger dont spend big on island because its provided on the ship. They get off walk around and go back. the odd taxi fare and may be a beer or too but that is it. charter boats are generally foreign owned so limited revenue there with a bit of provisions shopping to fill the boat for their week away.

        Bringing in direct large flights will bring with it tourism the BVI currently has little of and that is destination holidays. They stay on island, pay locals for accommodation and services, they tend to spend larger in bars and restaurants.
        This will increase and economy and building on it with hotels and resorts and attractions being built. Its a chicken and egg situation. BVI needs money to fix roads, schools etc and it does not currently have the money. You have the speculate to accumulate and with a private partner the risk to BVI is small.

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  15. American Missing says:

    We need some planes to replace the American Eagle and take time for the next move

  16. Concerned says:

    in 1986 (yes 1986) we had a plane with about 86 seats flying into Beef Island from Miami, they started in April and didn’t make it through to November – but the runway was long enough for them. And that is all we need – they do have these kind of flights in Europe, we just need to get the right company to do it. We cannot handle daily flight of 300 passengers, this small planes is what we need.

  17. LOL says:

    in 1986 (yes 1986) we had a plane with about 86 seats flying into Beef Island from Miami, they started in April and didn’t make it through to November – but the runway was long enough for them. And that is all we need – they do have these kind of flights in Europe, we just need to get the right company to do it. We cannot handle daily flight of 300 passengers, this small planes is what we need.

  18. Concerned says:

    “Said” is absolutely correct!!! Start at the bottom and work toward a goal, not at the top to get glory and try to fill pockets.
    In addition, this is just what China is looking for world wide. Once they get they get their hooks in BVI landers will control nothing. Those that want to get rich at any cost will remain in and do the bidding of Cjina

  19. Mankind says:

    Stop tax we white people for yall messy foam container selfish nastiness..yuvk.

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