JIS News

Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill, said yesterday (October 21), that the Government would be establishing an operating company, NMIA Airports Limited, as the approved airport operator for the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA).
The Minister pointed out that this would be done under the Airports (Economic Regulation) Act of 2002.Mr. Pickersgill was speaking at the signing of three contracts valued at over US$393 million to carry out extensive improvements to the physical facilities and operational efficiency of the Norman Manley International Airport.
NMIA Airports Limited will be a subsidiary of the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ), and will enter into a concession agreement with the AAJ to operate the airport. In this regard, Mr. Pickersgill explained that NMIA Airports Limited would be held to specific performance criteria, including international levels of service and safety.
He said the company would be responsible for “obtaining the necessary financing for expanding the airport, implementing expansion plans, paying a concession fee for the use of existing assets and declaring dividends as appropriate”.
The NMIA and the Sangster International Airport have collected some US$1.94 million and US$1.08 million respectively, since the introduction of the Airport Improvement Fee (AIF) of US$5 per passenger departing the island.
The revenue from the AIF is dedicated to the support of capital development programmes at both airports. Mr. Pickersgill said the aim was for the NMIA to become an “autonomous commercial enterprise, and functioning in such a manner as to facilitate the smooth transfer of operations and underlying agreements to a private operator at an appropriate time”.
Pointing out that the privatisation process had already occurred at the Sangster International Airport, he said that despite criticisms, that initiative had been a successful one to date. The Minister informed that since the privatisation of that airport in April this year, employee interviews and administrative changes had proceeded smoothly, without any incident of industrial unrest.
Mr. Pickersgill said that based on what had occurred so far, his Ministry was confident that the concessionaire would proceed to exercise its rights and duties under the 30-year lease agreement, and as agreed, invest US$200 million in expansion and upgrading works in three phases.
“The public can be assured of this, as well as the fact that we will apply the lessons learnt from the arrangements governing Sangster International, to the future privatisation of the Norman Manley International Airport,” he said.

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