Though officials have confirmed that the price of the Owen Roberts International Airport upgrade will exceed its original $55 million estimate, the project’s final cost will not be made public until 2019.

Ombudsman and Cayman Islands Airports Authority officials told this to the Compass in response to a freedom of information request to ascertain exactly how much the cost and the scope of the airport upgrade has increased since its inception. Airports Authority officials have admitted that the project will cost more than $55 million due to changes in the project, but have declined to provide specifics.

“Given that the CIAA has not finalized this process (Owen Roberts Airport Redevelopment Project), I believe it would be premature and not in the public interest to release those records at this time,” Ombudsman Senior Appeals and Policy Analyst Charlene Roberts told the Compass.

The Airports Authority will release the project’s final cost once redevelopment is finalized, which will likely be during the first quarter of 2019, added CIAA Office Manager Nadine Ramsay.

As recently as December, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell told the public that the airport upgrade was on target to meet its $55 million budget.

But in April, CIAA CEO Albert Anderson said that is no longer the case, as changes were made to the project that increased its price tag.

“We know there have been change orders, we know the project will cost more than $55 million, but negotiations are ongoing and that’s pretty much all I can say at this point,” he said at the time.

At an event marking the opening of the facility’s new departure lounge in May, Mr. Anderson again acknowledged there had been budget overruns, which he attributed to a mix of unforeseen problems and additional features added to the design.

He said the redevelopment would likely be around 10 percent over budget once complete.

“We are going to go past $55 million. I don’t have a fix yet on how much that is because we are still negotiating some of the changes with the contractors,” he said at the time.

Mr. Anderson said the additional costs were necessary and would come out of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority’s budget. The project is being funded through a mix of CIAA revenues, collected through a passenger facilities charge levied on every airport user, and a government cash injection.

Once finished, the upgraded airport will have a maximum annual passenger capacity of around 2.5 million. The airport was originally built to handle about 500,000 passengers annually but currently accommodates more than twice that many.

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