By Davion Smith, BVI News Journalist
Government has said it anticipates to give up control of the Terrence B Lettsome International Airport for roughly 20 years.
Premier Dr D Orlando Smith made the statement yesterday while confirming that his administration is hunting for a private investor to take on the controversial airport expansion project.
“Someone would design, build, and operate the airport for a certain time and then hand it back over to government after they (investors) recoup their investment. So, that is the model we are expecting,” Dr Smith said.
Premier Smith described 20 years as the ‘standard time’ for an investor to run an airport in a public-private partnership.
“That’s the way many airports around the world operate – London, New York. Many [others] operate in that way,” he added.
Why airport expansion increased by over $95 million
China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) was selected to extend the airport’s runway from 4,645 feet to about 7,100 feet at a cost of $153 million.
Premier Smith said the expansion project is now expected to cost $250 million because the terminal at the airport will also be developed.
He further said the government has terminated its original deal with CCCC.
“They did not provide the opportunity for public-private partnership at that time and so we thought as a government that that’s the direction we needed to be going in because we still think there are companies, organisations, and people out there who would be interested in providing that kind of facility for us,” Premier Smith said.
He, however, noted that a new deal with the Chinese company is possible.