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Major Upgrades Underway At Family Island Airports
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Posted by:Jun 21st 2004, 12:15:37 pm
Fig Tree News TeamMajor Upgrades Underway At Family Island Airports

Hadassah Hall
Bahama Journal

Despite glitches in the lighting process, the Marsh Harbour, Abaco Airport is now prepared to be certified for night flying by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin.

Marsh Harbour has become the third busiest airport in The Bahamas behind Nassau International and Grand Bahama International airports, she said.

Minister Hanna-Martin told The Bahama Journal recently that the volume of traffic has “compelled” the government to put the wheels in motion to erect an air traffic control tower in Marsh Harbour.

“The traffic is so thick now at Marsh Harbour that if we don’t move quickly, it’s quite possible that there could be an incident that we would not want to hear about…that’s the motivational factor in this matter,” she said.

There are no air traffic services, apart from some advisory services, in a few of the islands, according to the Minister.

She said Director of Civil Aviation Cyril Saunders has already identified air traffic controllers who will be based in Abaco, some on a permanent basis and one on a rotational basis.

“(This) is so that we could have in place air traffic control services for the many, many aircraft that are in and out of that airport, Minister Hanna-Martin said.

She added that with Marsh Harbour Airport about to be certified for night flying, it makes it even more necessary to have air traffic controllers.

Minister Hanna-Martin said the airport at Treasure Cay, Abaco is also ready for night flying and is awaiting certification by the FAA.

She said Governor’s Habour Airport in Eleuthera is on the government’s agenda for preparations for night flying.

During her recent contribution to the budget debate, Minister Hanna-Martin said the night flying exercise commenced by the Free National Movement (FNM) administration came to a “screeching halt” when the $2.5 million allocated for contractors was exhausted before the works were completed.

She said the Ministry of Transport and Aviation was “forced” to find additional resources to recommence the exercise.

Minister Hanna-Martin announced that Moss Town International in Exuma and San Salvador International Airport recently got the green light from the FAA, certifying the airports’ readiness for U.S carriers.

“I am advised that there is already one American carrier which is interested in commencing night flights to Exuma,” she said.

Minister Hanna-Martin also announced that San Salvador International became the first Family Island airport to conduct passenger screening.

Authorities purchased a building for screening, along with devices that included an x-ray machine, walk-through metal detector and hand wands. They were part of the airport’s $1.4 million upgrade.

Minister Hanna-Martin said San Salvador International Airport represents the prototype of what will be required at Family Island airports.

The minister also pointed out during the interview with The Bahama Journal that developments are attributed to the increased volume of aircraft traffic that has prompted the government to embark on an aggressive redevelopment of airports throughout the islands

“The economic boost that is happening to The Bahamas is just so phenomenal, we don’t want to be caught off guard,” she said.

Extensive works are being carried out at a number of airports, including in Exuma, North Eleuthera, Governor’s Harbour, San Salvador, Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay, Abaco.

In Mayagauna, construction of a new terminal has been completed and improvements to the runway are ongoing at an estimated cost of $350,000.

In Rum Cay, a 4,500-foot runway was recently completed, and in Congo Town $3 million was spent in runway reconstruction.

Minister Hanna-Martin said some of the airport redevelopment focuses on islands that were remote.

“(They) may not have been even near the top of the list, but because of the economic surge that is happening, we have to look just globally across the board in The Bahamas,” she said.

“The Bahamas is developing at such a rapid pace that we are being challenged throughout the islands with having to deal with this kind of increased volume of traffic at airports.”

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