Of the 14 airports the government will enter Public/Private Partnerships with, three of them will be in the northern Bahamas, namely Abaco. The Ministry of Tourism, Aviation and Investments made the announcement in a press statement on February 26.
The government of The Bahamas entered this programme to improve the 14 airports throughout the Family Islands.
Leonard M. Thompson International Airport (Marsh Harbour), Treasure Cay Airport and Sandy Point International Airport are the airports involved.
The Leonard M. Thompson International Airport has been classified as Tier 1 which means it is a significant port of entry or gateway for the Family Islands and has economic opportunities to be financially sustainable.
Treasure Cay Airport and Sandy Point International Airport, are both classified as Tier 3, meaning only domestic services are provided with limited traffic and coordination needed with island administrators for inspections and maintenance.
A tier 2 airport has port of entry status and provides customs and immigration services to the Family Islands where international traffic and/or economic development exists to support limited or shared services.
In a March 1 announcement: it will be a multi-phased process. The initial phase announced the PPP and interested parties will access pertinent documents that they must complete and submit to the Department of Aviation. Following this, those who qualify will be invited to the Request for Proposal phase which has been tentatively set for May 2023.
The PPP has been designed to engage experienced and qualified private sector concessionaires under a model to design, build, finance, operate and/or maintain the following fourteen (14) Family Island Airports:
1. New Bight International Airport (Tier 2) — Cat Island
2. Exuma International Airport (Tier 1) – Moss Town, Great Exuma
3. Staniel Cay Airport (Tier 3) – Great Exuma (Option to bundle)
4. Black Point Airport (Tier 3) – Great Exuma (Option to bundle)
5. Farmer’s Cay Airport (Tier 3) – Great Exuma (Option to bundle)
6. Leonard M. Thompson International Airport (Tier 1) – Marsh Harbour, Abaco
7. Treasure Cay Airport (Tier 3) – Abaco
8. Sandy Point International Airport (Tier 3) – Abaco
9. North Eleuthera International Airport (Tier 1) – Eleuthera
10. Rock Sound International Airport (Tier 2) – Eleuthera
11. Governor’s Harbour International Airport (Tier 1) – Eleuthera
12. Long Island International Airport (Tier 2) – Deadman’s Cay, Long Island
13. Congo Town Airport (Tier 3) – South Andros
14. San Salvador International Airport (Tier 1) – San Salvador
The Honourable I. Chester Cooper, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister with responsibility for Tourism, Investments & Aviation, noted: “Investors’ interest in The Bahamas’ Airports Infrastructural Projects is an indication of the global confidence in The Bahamas as a destination, especially after 2022 foreign air arrivals and overall seat capacity soared towards, and in some cases, exceeded the historic pre-pandemic levels. This move affirms the national priority and commitment of The Government to aggressively address the state of The Bahamas airports infrastructure to support ongoing economic development.”
According to Dr. Kenneth Romer, The Bahamas Director of Aviation, “In June 2021, the Government of The Bahamas initiated a process to identify a portfolio of airports with attractive investment potential and proposed a bundle of airports likely to be structured under a PPP scheme. After a careful review, a determination was made to formally launch Phase I, with the Request for Pre-Qualifications (RFpQ) for the Grand Bahama International Airport on 28 March 2022. This next phase is considered a continuation and expansion of this initiative designed to drive traffic, improve operational efficiency, grow revenue and enhance the quality of service in the targeted airports.”
Under this PPP Program, the ownership of the airports will be retained by The Government of The Bahamas. However, private partners will be granted a concession and lease for the airports up to 30 years. Further, there will be an option to invest in the airports either individually or through a bundle portfolio approach.