Designs are under way and work should begin by the end of summer on a $67 million project that will double the size of the Cayman Islands’ main airport terminal.
The building to receive passengers at the territory’s Owen Roberts International Airport will be expanded to 200,000 square feet, which will triple the amount of previously available public space in the terminal, according to the Cay Compass newspaper.
“There are a lot of details that aren’t worked out, but a lot of the big picture items are,” said Steve Harrill, an architect working on the project.
He added that the design plans — which call for the facility to resemble a sea turtle to commemorate the islands’ marine heritage — are 30 percent complete. Construction could be complete by 2018.
The current terminal, which was built in 1984, was designed to accommodate up to 500,000 people each year, but a recent boom in tourism has meant that more than one million people use the airport annually.
The government’s high debt levels and borrowing restrictions put in place by the United Kingdom have meant that the project will be funded mainly by a $15-per-passenger tax. The airport designs have received some criticism from Cayman residents because the facility will not include covered boarding bridges to link the terminal directly to aircrafts.
Instead, passengers will have to disembark on stairs and walk across the tarmac to board planes as they do now, according to the newspaper.
The jetways would have cost an extra $24 million, which would have exceeded the project’s budget.
“Jetways are something we would like to do, but we simply cannot make them work within the budget we have,” said Albert Anderson, the CEO of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority. “This amounts to approximately 40 percent of our overall budget, and they do not address the main issue we have, which is terminal congestion. They are also very costly to maintain.”