The Virgin Gorda Airport is shut down until further notice and could be closed for as long as six months, according to Denniston Fraser, the managing director of the BVI Airports Authority.
The shutdown was necessary because the airport’s firetruck was soaked with seawater during the passage of Hurricane Irma, which damaged the electronics and will likely cause it to stop functioning in the coming days, Mr. Fraser explained.
“We don’t think it’ll make another week; we’ve got to be proactive,” the managing director said by way of explanation.
The BVIAA will now likely order a new truck, and it has already reached out to Oshkosh, an airport truck manufacturer. The new vehicle will likely cost at least $650,000-$700,000, according to Mr. Fraser.
Acquiring that vehicle could take five to six months, he added. In the interim, BVIAA hopes to secure a secondhand truck with the help of donations.
Getting that secondhand vehicle – likely to cost at least $300,000 – could allow the airport to reopen in a matter of weeks, Mr. Fraser explained.
“Persons are telling us that they’re willing to help us,” he said. “The chance is there.”
While the airport is shuttered, all 12 of its BVIAA employees will be brought to Beef Island and/or redeployed in various capacities, the managing director explained. None will be taken off full-time work.
Mr. Fraser apologised for the short warning but said it would have been even shorter had the BVIAA decided to run the truck until it broke down.
“We definitely take safety seriously,” he said. “We’re really sorry that we couldn’t give more notice.”
The closure is effective Sunday, April 22, and anyone scheduled to travel to Virgin Gorda after that date is advised to contact the airline they booked with to make separate arrangements, according to Government Information Services.
“Obviously a lot of people are disgruntled,” Mr. Fraser said, adding, “We just hope that people understand we are trying to do our best to have a safe operation and we would like to be open as soon as we can.”