Nearly 50 people from 15 companies around the world attended a pre-tender meeting to discuss a planned business case for the proposed expansion of the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport.
Held Tuesday morning via Zoom, the meeting offered interested companies a chance to ask questions about government’s request for proposals for the business case, which will be designed to help decide the way forward for the long-delayed project.
“We are responsible for the growth and development of the airport,” said BVI Airports Authority Director of Finance Elvis Harrigan. “In order to achieve this, we would need a business plan. It’s important we do this business plan to see what ideas all of you may have.”
At least three companies that operate in the Virgin Islands — including Deloitte, KPMG, and PWC — were represented at the meeting. Also in attendance were companies based in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Colombia, Spain and Canada.
Bidders have until Dec. 29 to submit their tender documents, and bids are slated to be opened on Jan. 4.
“The goal is to have the business case completed in the quarter after the successful bidder is identified,” said Kevin “OJ” Smith, the project director and special advisor to the Premier’s Office.
The request for proposals marks the first time the government has tendered for a comprehensive airport business case that would meet the requirements of the 2012 Protocols for Effective Financial Management, an agreement the VI signed with the UK to promote fiscal stability and transparency in the territory.
The BVIAA issued the request for proposals on Nov. 9, and the Tuesday session was the first pre-tender meeting.
Mr. Smith began the meeting with an overview of the project’s history and current goals.
“The [VI] has attempted since 2012 to extend the runway at the airport and further develop the airport,” he said.
According to Mr. Smith, the business case should include an air traffic forecast outlining the benefits of variables like runway length.
“Two areas of concern are the commercial case and the financial case. In the commercial case, you have to make the argument that there is a demand for the territory, and part of that should include a traffic forecast for the runway and for the airport,” Mr. Smith said. “At the end of everything, we want to have an updated business case and an updated master plan so we can have a package that the public can read … and everyone would be on the same page.”
Company representatives asked about the scope of the business plan, the airport master plan, and whether the companies not chosen in this bid process may be able to provide other services further down the line.
They also asked for supplemental documents like the government’s overall tourism and economic strategies.
Mr. Smith said these documents would be provided after a successful bidder is chosen.