Airport bears Ivan scars

Hurricane Ivan’s effects are still causing problems at Owen Roberts International Airport where a leaking roof recently saw two buckets being placed in the arrivals/immigration area of the terminal building.

‘This is a result of removing the roof to do repairs on damages caused by Hurricane Ivan. So when it rains we’re caught with it off and have leaks,’ explained Cayman Islands Airports Authority CEO David Frederick. But the good news is the roof repairs are projected to be fully finished by the end of August.

Meanwhile, the damages caused during Hurricane Ivan have accelerated plans for the expansion project to the airport, and financing is currently being sought for the expansion plan. A final concept has been decided on and this is set to go to the Planning Department in less than two week’s time.

A renovation and expansion of the airport at a cost of $25 to $30 million is to provide a state-of-the-art facility that supports improved airline service to the rest of the world.

The plans also provide space for passenger and aviation activity projected through the next 20 years, along with further expansion possibilities thereafter.

It is understood that the current airport set-up does not adequately accommodate today’s larger aircraft, does not have enough space for current passenger loads, and it was severely damaged by Hurricane Ivan.

The airport expansion and enhancement is projected to have a timeline for construction of 18 to 24 months following groundbreaking.

The improved terminal building would expand the building to more than 165,000 square feet, more than double its current area, and expand departure lounge space by 415 per cent.

The new plans provide passenger bridges for simultaneous boarding of several aircraft during all weather conditions. It expands food and beverage and retail concession areas and provides for an enlarged departure/ticketing hall.

Other features of the project are that it adds an enclosed arriving-passenger greeting hall, enhances safety and security, can be further expanded in phases as demand dictates and offers separate domestic passenger holding and baggage claim.

It will increase and improve international security requirements and allow for separate security checks for international and domestic travellers.

In planning ahead over the next 20 years, the project could cater to 1,225,000 passengers annually, six arrivals in peak hour and six departures in peak hours. Before the hurricane the number of passengers passing through airport annually was 890,774.