Travellers to Cayman Brac later this year will have to put up with construction work at Charles Kirkconnell International Airport as a $2.5 million facelift project gets under way.
Brac construction firm DSS Contractors has been chosen to do the preliminary work on expansion plans designed to enhance international commercial passenger operations at the airport in the larger of the two Sister Islands, the Cayman Islands Airports Authority has reported.
“The project will accommodate a larger ticketing hall, enhanced passenger screening and hold baggage screening facilities and the addition of outgoing immigration counters,” said Nicholas Johnson, the airports authority’s project manager. “The departure lounge will also be expanded to create additional retail space and a larger restaurant. Office space is also being created for Cayman Airways, as well as the airport’s security unit and a VIP lounge.”
Initial work includes relocating sewerage facilities, constructing a temporary outdoor baggage area, creating a temporary interior baggage corridor and demolishing the existing exterior baggage area.
Main terminal expansion work, which is being sought to accommodate nonstop outgoing international flights between Cayman Brac, the United States and elsewhere, is expected to begin by the end of the year.
The airports authority did not report cost projections in its news release. However, in late April, the statutory authority applied to the Development Control Board, which oversees planning matters for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, for permission to build two additions to the airport facilities in Cayman Brac as part of a two-phase project with an estimated cost of $2.5 million, according to board records.
The first phase would include a 6,816-square-foot addition to the east end of the existing terminal building, with a check-in area, restrooms, security room, baggage screening, enlarged departure lounge and relocated cafe/bar. The second phase would include a 4,670-square-foot addition to the west end of the building, for a new baggage claim area. The board approved the airport extension plans on 7 May.
Jeremy Jackson, chief executive officer of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority, said the airports authority was funding the expansion work, which he said he expected would be completed next summer.
The airport in Cayman Brac is serviced almost exclusively by national flag carrier Cayman Airways and its wholly-owned subsidiary Cayman Airways Express.
Following a departmental tender process, which began in August, the airports authority reported it signed a contract with DSS Contractors on 21 September.
Mr. Johnson is said to be working with Donal McGrath of BDCL Architects on the primary design and planning phases. Mr. Johnson said the terminal will remain operational during all aspects of the expansion and efforts will be made to minimise interruption to passenger processing as the building is extended to the east.
The airports authority first announced its intentions to expand facilities in Cayman Brac in March.
In July, Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush delivered the keynote address during a ground-breaking ceremony at the airport, where he also announced the renaming of the facility from Gerrard-Smith International Airport to Charles Kirkconnell International Airport.
“This is an important milestone in furthering the development of the tourism industry in Cayman Brac,” Mr. Bush said. “If we are to see the Island’s tourism industry grow, then improved airport facilities are an essential element. The plans that have been laid for the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport are excellent, and as premier and minister responsible for airports, I am extremely happy that this initiative by my government is now under way.”
Mr. Jackson said he is looking forward to the project’s conclusion next summer.
“The expansion is being funded by the Cayman Islands Airports Authority and will undoubtedly provide a much-needed boost to the continued economic development of Cayman Brac,” he said.