Gov’t cautioned to develop sound plan for Barbuda

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The government has been warned to brace for “serious” challenges if it does not formulate a clearly thought out plan for the proposed construction of a new airport runway on Barbuda.
September has been set as the latest start date for the new 6,100-foot runway on the sister island. However, experts within the aviation field are not convinced that enough information is being filtered to the public about the proposed development.
Former Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Antigua & Barbuda Airport Authority, Gatesworth James was the first to issue a word of caution.
“I believe that there will be problems going down the road if they don’t start on the right footing. If there is a plan, they must come out and dialogue with the people who are going to be impacted and the people who have the infrormation. Other than that, it appears to me that these investors are putting down a hotel project there and they want a runway so that they could fly in their private jets,” James said.
According to the former airport executive, it does not appear that the proposed development is falling into the whole aviation plan for Antigua & Barbuda.
“Its too piecemeal,” he said. “Maybe I am a little distance of the way from the operation but, when you fail to involve the airport authority it tells me that a lot of things are not in place and that a lot of things need to be done to make that airport what it needs to be.”
The former acting CEO also recommended that government should cross all the “T’s”and dot all the “I’s”  to ensure that the facility is useful for Barbudans as well as visitors.
“Are the Barbudan people aware that this is going to be a facility, where at some stage, down the game they going to have to be paying some contribution like passenger facilitation. How are you going to do that because airlines will not come in and just pay for everything there,” James said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Grantley Adams Airport in Barbados, David Barrow also opined that a business plan is key to any major development.
“There is a development aspect, you must consider that, for example 6,100 feet, what is the percentage of public and private investment ratios and so on. It may come that it is a charge on the public purse of Antigua & Barbuda,” Barrow said.
 Last week, the Cabinet revealed a decision to expand the width of the runway from 30 to 45 feet which will see the cost increasing from US $14.5 million to around US $15.9.
However, no details have been released on the plans for the terminal to accompany the runway.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gaston Browne has given the assurance that the airport will be constructed to meet international standards. 

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