Construction work continues at the Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman. - Photo: Alvaro Serey

The bidding process for businesses to win retail space in Cayman’s new airport terminal may have to be repeated because officials missed their own deadline for dealing with applications.

A total of 42 bids were received by the Cayman Islands Airports Authority for the coveted 17 concession slots to run restaurants, shops and duty-free stores in the revamped airport. The winners were originally supposed to have been announced by December 2017, but the authority missed that deadline and failed to extend it.

That oversight has risked rendering the entire bidding process invalid, according to a letter sent to all bidders by CIAA chief executive officer Albert Anderson. Now the CIAA is seeking permission from the applicants to retrospectively extend the deadline. Mr. Anderson’s letter gave businesses until 4 p.m. Thursday, May 24, to give signed consent for the validity period for bids to be extended until June 7, 2018.

If the authority receives “the unconditional consent” of all bidders, it will then be in a position to notify the winners and losers immediately, the letter indicates.

If it cannot get unanimous consent, Mr. Anderson warns, “the authority will then be compelled to advise all proposers that it intends to proceed with a new RFP [request for proposals].”

Should that happen, it is likely that the shops, cafes and restaurants will not be ready when the new airport terminal fully opens in December. The second RFP, if it follows the same format as the first, would take six months to complete, meaning the bidders would not even learn if they had won until the end of the year.

In his letter, Mr. Anderson indicates it is important to conclude the process “as soon as possible” because of the “urgency in completing the fit out” of the airport, and urges bidders to give consent for the extension.

Some business owners who spoke to the Compass suggested the winners and losers of the bidding process had already leaked out and raised concerns that unsuccessful bidders would not agree to an extension in order to give themselves a second shot at the process.

Mr. Anderson’s letter appears to suggest the scenario could have been avoided if airport officials had sought to extend the deadline before it expired in December. The letter explains that a 180-day validity period was set in the RFP from the final date for submissions – June 30 last year.

Mr. Anderson wrote, “The authority’s review and consideration of the 42 proposals received from 25 proposers took longer than anticipated. Indeed, that process extended beyond the period in which the various proposals submitted remained valid.

“Unfortunately, due to very demanding commitments on the authority, its executive and staff in the continuing development of ORIA [Owen Roberts International Airport], the expiration date of the proposals received was overlooked and the validity period of 180 calendar days for all proposals was not extended by mutual agreement between the authority and each proposer prior to such expiration.

I sincerely apologize on behalf of the authority to you and all proposers for this oversight.”

He went on to say that, as a result of the oversight, none of the proposals are capable of being selected.

It was not clear at press time Thursday if all the bidders had given their consent. The Compass sent a number of questions to Mr. Anderson on the level of response from businesses to his letter and the likely consequences of having to repeat the RFP.

He responded, “The Authority will make a statement on the ORIA concessions RFP at the appropriate time.”

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  1. Once again I note that nothing, but nothing the CIG touches is done correctly, on time or on budget. That apparently includes a simple task such as reviewing bids for the airport concessions.

    Clearly Albert Anderson is in over his head with operating the airport AND overseeing this construction project. Perhaps this time CIG and Airport Authority erred by going cheep, and not hiring an experienced bonded project manager.

    Another chip in the CIG bed post!

  2. I would be interested to learn if the Auditor general has reviewed the operations of the CIAA. Only recently we had the debacle of having to divert incoming passenger jets due to heavy congestion at peak arrival time, which could easily have been avoided, now this.