by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): As part of the reinvestment in the tourism industry, the Government, along with the St. Christopher Air and Seas Port Authority (SCASPA), is updating the infrastructure of critical ports in St. Kitts.
Currently, the larger aircraft at the Robert Llewlyn Bradshaw International Airport are parking on the western end of the apron, which requires travellers to walk to and from the aircraft, an experience described by the Minister of Tourism, International Transport and Civil Aviation, the Hon. Marsha Henderson, as “a less than welcoming experience for our air passengers”.
Henderson made those remarks during the September 8 Tourism Press conference while updating the public on infrastructure plans for the air and sea ports.
Tender documents are being prepared to obtain quotes for the necessary repairs of the apron.
The Minister continued, “In addition, efforts are underway to improve the experience [at] the airport by making both the air-conditioning units and escalators operational by the end of this month (September). The Airport, as you are aware, needs expanding and modernising as its footprint has become inadequate to sustain the operational and security requirements expected from an international airport. Given this, SCASPA has developed a master plan for the airport with the rendering of a modernised facility that includes adequate capacity and the maximising of available land at the existing location. This upgrade is planned to be executed in a phased approach so as not to impede the existing operations.”
CEO of SCASPA, Ivor Keithley Phillip, explained that any expansion of the airport has to be done to the West. The plans include shortening the distance between the aircraft and the departure/arrival lounges.
“Also taken into account was the movement of the arrival and the departure areas. We realise that passengers now have this long walk to the aircraft. The plan suggests that the arrival and the departure areas would move towards the west so as to shorten the distance between leaving the airport and arriving at the aircraft.”
The Minister said the funding is expected to come from a CBI alternative investment program. A timeframe for the expansion of the airport was not given.
Aside from the airport, the main sea port at Port Zante Basseterre has undergone infrastructural work, with dredging at pier two being completed and able to accommodate Oasis-class cruise ships, and preventative dredging on pier one is ongoing. The dredging is expected to be completed before the start of the 2022-2023 cruise season in October. New pier fenders for pier one have also been ordered and are scheduled to arrive at the end of the year.
According to the CEO of SCASPA, the cost of dredging is US$1.9 million, which includes the dredging of all three piers. At the end of the dredging work, all three piers will be able to accommodate Oasis-class cruise ships.
Following the constraints over the last two years from the COVID-19 pandemic on the cruise sector, the Tourism Minister predicted the 2022-2023 cruise season would draw closer to pre-pandemic levels.