Senior Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Dr William Duguid believes that modernising the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) is long overdue.
He was making the case Tuesday for the much needed improvements to the airport during Parliament where he was discussing the Resolution: Parliament take note of MOU of GAIA.
The Memorandum of Understanding in question was the recent agreement between the GAIA and with the Office of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum of Dubai and Agencias Universales S.A of Chile, which was announced on July 18. The approximate $300 million deal is focused towards a new Public Private Partnership (PPP) for the investment, development and operation of the airport, a hemispheric hub for cargo, expanded airlift and additional luxury.
Duguid said: “Whether we like it or not we have to move into the next century. We have to take the airport forward. I agree with Honourable Minister Kerrie Symmonds that jet bridges become an essential part of a modern airport. Today we have reached that reality of knowing that we have to improve what we have at the Grantley Adams International Airport.”
Acknowledging that there were finer details to be ironed out, including the redesign of the airport to accommodate the improvements, he thanked the Ministers involved as well as the board members of the GAIA.
Duguid, who highlighted the areas of the airport that needed improving, believes there is also a need for increased business in the newly proposed airport.
“Anybody who travels in modern times to first world countries would tell you that airports of today are malls that planes take off and land from; the opportunities to shop, not only to buy food but clothing, electrical apparatus and almost anything you can imagine. All of these things are commercial opportunities and what we need to do is build out the concessionaires, and that is what this (the MOU) is going to do.”
The Minister concluded: “We must understand that as we develop as a country and as a nation, we have to start thinking outside of the box. Start putting away the norms and start saying ‘let’s try this or let’s try that’,” noting that it was a great sign of confidence in Barbados that the country was given BDS $300 million to upgrade the airport.
Minister of State in Foreign Trade and Business Development Sandra Husbands echoed his sentiments, calling this agreement a good move for the country, and asked Barbadians to embrace this deal.
“My simple word to Barbadians is this: Fear not. This is a good move on the part of the Government on behalf of Barbadians. What we need to do is to continue to follow as the process continues to stay engaged and get the facts. Don’t like people tying up your minds with speculation when they might not know. I also want to encourage Barbadians to be alert to the opportunities for them to be engaged in investments that come along.”
The Resolution was subsequently passed during the only sitting of Parliament. T next session is scheduled July 28. (JC)