Govt to purchase GB airport for $1

The government will purchase the Grand Bahama International Airport from Port Holdings and Port Group Ltd. for one dollar and will assume a portion of the staff-related costs, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionsio D’Aguilar announced in the House of Assembly today.

“The Bahamian taxpayer, especially the taxpayers on Grand Bahama, want to know the amount that their government has agreed to pay for that airport,” D’Aguilar said as he led debate on the Airport Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

“Well, Mr. Speaker, the purchase price is one dollar. Yes, Mr. Speaker one dollar, plus the assumption of a portion of staff related costs which should not exceed $1 million.

“So, the Airport Authority is purchasing about 2,500 acres of land, an 11,000-foot runway that was recently resurfaced, taxiways, ramps, etcetera, all for under $1 million.”

The minister said he expects the purchase to be completed “very shortly”. Once the sale is finalized, the asset will be transferred to the Airport Authority, which will create a special purpose vehicle to operate and redevelop the airport.

The Grand Bahama International Airport was extensively damaged during the passage of Hurricane Dorian in September 2019.

The government has said that the current owners have shown no interest in restoring the airport, despite the commitment to provide an international airport in the Hawksbill Creek Agreement.

D’Aguilar estimated it would cost $40 million to $50 million to rebuild airport, but noted that the government cannot afford to finance the rebuilding efforts.

“The government will seek to enter into a public/private partnership to assist in the rebuilding of this airport,” D’Aguilar said.

“Private sector funding and management will be the way forward for this airport. We have no choice.”

However, he said the government will spend about $1.5 million on repairs.

As it relates to the staff, D’Aguilar said when the transfer is complete, they will receive a severance package from Hutchison Port Holdings and Port Group Ltd.

However, prior to that transition, the Airport Authority will identify the employees who want to transition. Those selected and interested will start a new job at the airport once the sale is complete, D’Aguilar said.