Gov’t looking to partner with private sector to manage JF Mitchell Airport
December 23, 2016
Gov’t looking to partner with private sector to manage JF Mitchell Airport

With the annual recurrent spending at the JF Mitchell airport in Bequia being about three times more than its annual income, the Government is seeking to partner with the private sector on that island to address the challenge.

Prime Minister Gonsalves made this disclosure last week, while responding to a question posed by Opposition Leader and parliamentary representative for the Northern Grenadines {{more}}Dr Godwin Friday.

Friday asked: “The JF Mitchell Airport at Paget Farm Bequia continues to deteriorate. Despite calls on the government to assess and repair the condition of the airport nothing has been done, so that the roof continues to leak, the entrance doors still do not work, the eaves around the terminal building are still broken in many places, the toilets still do not work and the apron leading to the runway and the parking lot area at the entrance of the terminal building have turned to gravel. Will the Prime Minister say when this important facility will be repaired?”

Gonsalves who has the responsibility for Grenadines Affairs explained that in 2011 the airport recorded 8,622 passenger movements and 9,676 in 2015.

“You get essentially fewer than 14 passengers per day using the facility and in terms of revenue, this translates to EC$350 passenger service charge per day. On the aircraft side, landing fees and associated revenue is less than $200 per day, on the other hand, recurrent spending on the airport has increased from $580,000 in 2011 to over three-quarters of a million dollars in 2015,” the Prime Minister explained.

He added that this figure given for recurrent spending does not include certain administrative costs or the cost of maintenance, communication and of navigational security equipment.

“… Nor does it include the provision for close country aeronautical information or the geological or any…of the services which are combined. But, we have a duty to keep it in reasonable repair,” Gonsalves admitted.

He expressed the hope that hoteliers in Bequia could come to a similar agreement with Government, as is the case at the airport in Canouan.

Gonsalves explained that after the terminal building at the Canouan Airport was completed, a contractual agreement was reached with the developers of the resort in respect of basic repairs of the airport.

“In other words, we need flexible arrangements of a practical nature to address on an ongoing basis, some of the challenges which we have.”

The Prime Minister noted that he was given a long answer by the director of Airports about the various repairs that had been done and which are going to be done at the airport.

“It is a matter of explaining to you honourable member and giving the assurance, we’re going to continue to do repairs on a timely basis.”

Gonsalves also mentioned that when the Argyle International Airport management company comes into place, it will take over the overall responsibility for the management of the airports.(CM)