Public-private partnerships are among the options being considered for the airport expansion the government hopes to build soon, officials said after attending a recent meeting of the Airport Expansion Summit for Latin America and the Caribbean held in Florida from Feb. 7-10.
Other options include government-funded and “self-funded” models, according to a press release issued Monday by the BVI Airports Authority.
Then-Premier Dr. Orlando Smith’s government started working toward an expansion at least as early as 2012 and spent millions on related studies, consultations and infrastructure works.
By 2015, his administration was in discussions with various firms for a public-private partnership. But that idea was soon nixed, and government decided instead to finance the expansion itself and contract a firm to carry out the work.
Following a tender process, Dr. Smith’s government accepted a $153 million bid from the China Communications Construction Company in 2016, but that plan soon stalled for unexplained reasons.
By 2018, government officials were again floating the idea of a public-private partnership as part of the territory’s recovery from 2017’s Hurricane Irma. But the project was never tendered again, and work never got underway.
The summit this month enabled the BVIAA to connect to a network of experts who could provide assistance throughout the development process, according to the press release. BVIAA Board of Directors Chairman Theodore Burke led a delegation including BVIAA Managing Director Kurt Menal and Finance Director Elvis Harrigan to the summit, where government officials, investors, airport management and aviation professionals, architects, engineers, and consultants engaged in discussions on effective ways to approach airport expansion in the region.
Some delegates also attended a session with the organisation Airports Council International about legal considerations for airport construction projects.
Studies and plans
Mr. Menal said the team is revisiting various studies and plans that were developed over the years for the proposed expansion project.
The BVIAA and the Communications and Works Ministry have “shifted the focus from airport expansion to holistic airport development based on a master plan which is a long-term guide to development that supports an airport’s business and infrastructure development strategy,” according to the press release.