Kirkconnell: New airport terminal on the horizon

June completion expected for runway work

An Island Paving truck leaves the airport area as work on the runway continues on Friday. - Photo: Andrel Harris

Upgrades at Owen Roberts International Airport are nearing the final stage before work begins on a new terminal, said Transport Minister Moses Kirkconnell.

Lengthening of the runway, under way now, will be the final project before focussing on the terminal.

“Land was left for the greenfield expansion, and that brings in a new terminal, new apron, runway considerations and the jet bridges that everybody wants,” Kirkconnell told the Cayman Compass during the Caribbean Travel Marketplace in Nassau last month.

Greenfield refers to development on land that has previously not been built on.

Current work on the runway is expected to be completed by June.

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Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell

“We have [Boeing] 777s that land from British Airways. So we had to strengthen the runway,” the minister said.

“The lengthening of the runway will take care of us in the medium term, but there certainly has to be a consideration for a longer runway in the long term.”

He addressed criticism that the newly upgraded airport, with an annual capacity of 2.5 million passengers, has already neared capacity on heavy traffic days.

“People said, we should have built it bigger. But I tell you this straight, 15 years people talked about building that airport and nothing happened until I got elected and was put in that position as a minister,” Kirkconnell said.

“And our team has finished it to that point. So my answer to them is, we’re moving forward with the business case, but what would have happened if we hadn’t done it then and we were still talking about it?”

To alleviate crowding in the short term, he said more seating will be added to the second floor.

He highlighted changes to customs and immigration processes, such as a ‘green channel’ for travellers with no goods to declare, and additional staff training as steps taken to improve the passenger experience.

For stayover visitors, the airport is their first and last impression of the jurisdiction, he said, emphasising the importance of the islands’ travel infrastructure.

“It’s the first place that you come when you get to Cayman. I think it’s a good representation of a successful, small island nation,” he said.

“You get a lasting impression that it’s an island that is doing work and it’s doing the work in the right places. It’s improving its infrastructure and it’s a sophisticated destination.”

Kirkconnell added that Cayman Airways is considering the addition of a location on the US West Coast for direct flights to Grand Cayman.

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  1. As someone who flies in 4-5 times a year on average I must add that as you are flying in the first thing you notice is the beautiful water and the next thing you see is Mt. Trashmore. A pretty horrible impression.

  2. I must say I cannot see any logic in the Minister’s comments on the upgrade of the existing terminal. The fact is they underestimated passenger growth and to have to start immediately on another set of plans and upgrades with all the related inconvenience to everyone using the airport is ridiculous. My first and last impressions of our airport development plans are that we are making a dogs dinner of our airport planning. Just look art the announcement from Mr Anderson that he was closing the airport completely for 6 consecutive Tuesdays which resulted in all the airlines having to amend their schedules and passengers having to rebook their flights. Then just before the first closure he “discovers” the work on lengthening the runway could be done at night and cancelled the closures.

  3. Sadly the airport asphalt debacle is a cataclysmic disaster brought on by human error at it’s worst. Who should be tarred and feathered for this? The story doesn’t put blame on any one person, except that the asphalt was dug too deep. WHY? Close Owen Roberts Airport, inconvenience families on holiday, who have probably had their vacation plans for months. Cargo was certaimly affected by this closure. Hotels, restaurants lost money. Who is minding the store. Another terminal. WHAT?