At the ongoing World Travel Market in London, Johnson Johnrose of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, met up with Antigua & Barbuda’s Tourism Minister John Maginley. Here, Maginley talks about their new airport terminal.
JOHN MAGINLEY: As you know, we just had the groundbreaking for our brand-new airport, which will add significantly to our destination. Years ago, when we built the old airport, I don’t think anybody envisaged six or seven wide-bodied aircraft on the ground at the same time. So part of our challenge is, our success has made us outgrow that old terminal. So now we have a new terminal we are building. It’s going to be around 45 million. We are set to come on stream December 2013, and it will be a wonderful facility.
JOHNSON JOHNROSE: I understand it’s replicating what’s in St. Maarten.
MAGINLEY: No, it isn’t. We sent our architects to St. Maarten, to Miami, to China, to have a look at all properties and see what strengths and weaknesses exist in those places so that we don’t make that mistake of the weaknesses. We want to use the strengths, but make sure we don’t repeat the mistakes. And it will really make a change in Antigua, because the first impression is very important. So when people come in, we want them to feel comfortable – there will be air bridges so that people can come straight from the plane into the terminal. We spent a lot of time on efficiencies and making sure it’s a seamless transfer in and out. Certainly on departure, the last thing we want to do is to make sure the last impression they have of Antigua is one of success and caring, and people are serious about treating our visitors and our residents well. So the new airport is going to be a jumping point for us going forward. The airlines are very pleased already, because they have always had the challenges, and we want to bring in more flights into Antigua, but also by having a new terminal, they are all very pleased that we will be able to handle the traffic and that we’ll be able to look after their passengers much better than we are doing today.
JOHNROSE: 45 million you say – is that US dollars?
MAGINLEY: Yes, US dollars.
JOHNROSE: How are you funding it?
MAGINLEY: We got a loan through the Exim bank of China, People’s Republic of China, who have been very supportive of Antigua and Barbuda over the years, and we negotiated a very attractive deal with them, and we hope to start construction in a couple of weeks. They are on the ground now making all the preparations.
JOHNROSE: And when do you expect it actually get to open?
MAGINLEY: We expect it to open November, December 2013 to the public. And then we have the old terminal, which we are still deciding what we are going to do with that, because the new terminal is being built on the green side, so we have the old terminal, which there are a number of proposals to what to do with that building and so forth, and it means it will give us a better opportunity to look after people who work at the airport better … air traffic control, these kinds of offices, and we’ll be able to give them more office space, better facilities in which to work.