Grand Cayman is halfway done with a massive expansion of its international airport, the Cayman Islands Airports Authority announced last week.

The project is expected to triple the facility’s size and allow it to accommodate more than 2 million passengers a year, according to the statutory body.

The Owen Roberts International Airport — which is owned and operated by the CIAA — is currently only equipped to process about 500,000 travellers each year even though more than 1 million pass through its doors annually.

The multi-phase expansion is expected to take a total of three years, with a completion date slated for late 2018, the press release stated.

“There are numerous moving parts to the project, and it has been so rewarding to witness firsthand the many leaps and bounds we are making to deliver a first-class facility that we will all enjoy,” CIAA CEO Albert Anderson said in a CIAA press release.

The agency has completed the first phase of the project, which included a new baggage-handling area, airline offices and a mechanical room.

Future works scheduled to be finished in the next year and a half include an additional exit lane in the short-term parking section; new customs, immigration and baggage claim areas; enhancements to the ticketing area; and an expansion of the departure hall, food court and VIP lounge, according to CIAA. The expansion also involves constructing additional gates.

Additionally, the statutory body is calling for tender bids to strengthen the runway and build a perimeter road for airfield access vehicles.

“A world-class terminal in the Cayman Islands is not far from sight now, and we look forward to sharing it with our residents and people from all across the globe,” Mr. Anderson said in the release.

Virgin Islands

Meanwhile, residents of the Virgin Islands continue to await government’s next announcement regarding the long-planned-for expansion of Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport.

Last December, government announced it had chosen the China Communications Construction Company as its preferred bidder to expand the facility, and officials said they hoped to reach a contractual agreement within three months.

About two months later, multiple government backbenchers broke party rank and voiced their disagreement with investing in the expansion project at that time.

Though the dissenting lawmakers expressed support for the expansion overall, they argued it should be delayed in favour of funding initiatives such as local infrastructure and education improvements.  

At a House of Assembly sitting at the beginning of this month, Premier Dr. Orlando Smith (R-at large) said his government was “re-evaluating” its position on the runway expansion.

Dr. Smith — one of the project’s most ardent supporters in recent years — promised that an official announcement would be forthcoming soon.