Despite bad weather hampering efforts, work to complete the six sub projects that make up the Airfields Upgrades Project can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel, with completion not too far off.
A whole host of improvements have been undertaken since November 2019 by the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) to the Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA) on Grand Cayman and the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport on Cayman Brac which are helping to improve service, operations and safety standards. The Airfields Upgrades Project is in addition to the redesign and expansion of the ORIA’s terminal, which was completed in July 2019.
CIAA CEO Albert Anderson said they were very pleased with the progress they had made to date given the complexity of the work, the amount of manpower the project had required, while at the same time keeping disruption to the airfield to a minimum.
Vital improvements have included the rehabilitation of the existing runway surface to increase its strength and durability, a runway extension, a new parallel taxiway, the filling of the ponds within the airfield perimeter, establishing an airfield perimeter road, and expanding the aircraft parking ramp in an easterly direction to provide additional aircraft parking.
Due to unanticipated increased aircraft activity at ORIA in the first two quarters of 2019, a decision was made to bring forward additional airfield improvements identified in the airport’s Master Plan 2032 (the blueprint for future airport development) that were originally scheduled to start some time in the future. These improvements, anticipated at costing around $12.8 million, include increasing ramp space at the General Aviation Terminal to cope with demand for additional general aviation aircraft parking, a partial parallel taxiway from the east end of the runway to the apron to improve efficiencies of the runway for takeoff and landing, and an extension to the commercial apron to provide additional aircraft parking.
These additional improvements are set to bump up the overall cost of the airfields’ improvements to a total of $47.2 million. In order to raise funds to pay for the improvements, the CIAA went out to tender for a loan of $12.4 million plus an overdraft facility of $8.5 million to add to existing cash available to execute the Airfield Upgrades Project. The CIAA advised that it was currently negotiating the contract for this loan with a local bank and expects to finalise the transaction once Foreign and Commonwealth Office approval is received. In the meantime, Government is providing a bridging loan to the CIAA.
“We are currently within the $45.7 million budget dedicated to the Airfield Upgrades Project and on track for completing the project scope by the end of 2020,” said Mr. Anderson. “During these unprecedented times, we are most grateful for the dedication and support of our partners, staff and traveling public as we strive to deliver a world-class airport experience from take-off to touch down.”