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Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill on Thursday (July 14) cut the ribbon to officially commission into service, the new south wing of the Sangster International Airport.The project, which was completed ahead of time and within budget, is part of phase one of the five-year airport expansion and modernization project, which started in 2003. Some US$35 million has already been expended on first phase works.
Chief Executive Officer of Montego Bay Jamaica (MBJ) Airports Limited, Jorge Sales, informed that while the new concourse building would not be fully operational until December, the new south apron has already been put into service, thus transferring the operations of gates seven to 14 of the old finger to gates eight to 19 in the new building.
“This is in order to demolish the old finger building to be able to complete the north side of the new concourse building . but already, the passengers are enjoying some of the benefits of the new building, such as more jet-loading mobile bridges, elevators and new air-conditioning units”, Mr. Sales said.
In his address at the ceremony, Minister Pickersgill said that he was “very, very impressed” with the expansion work so far, noting that there “seemed to be a basic transformation of the entire airport environment”.
“Seeing is believing . and I must confess that I am very, very impressed with the levels of accomplishments of the project and therefore wholeheartedly congratulate the management team, the workers and all those that have been involved in this worthwhile project so far.
This achievement has vindicated what the government did in offering a concession to the private sector some years ago”, he stated.
He noted that when completed, the project would provide an additional 17,000 square meters of terminal building with 11 additional gates, all with jet loading (mobile) bridges; an additional 62,000 square meters of new apron; and 13 new retail shops with food and beverage facilities.
“When the entire expansion project is completed in July 2008, the Sangster International Airport will more than double its original terminal building surface and shall be able to process more than 10 million passengers per year, representing three times the present number”, Minister Pickersgill stated.
The airport’s fire safety capability has also been enhanced with the addition of a new fire truck and the Transport Minister said that the new acquisition, which has a capacity of 11,000 liters of water, would allow the airport to maintain the category nine level of protection.
When completed, the airport will be able to withstand hurricanes up to category five.