Some $4.5 billion has been set aside in this year’s budget for the upgrade of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri (CJIA) as part of the government’s modernisation plan.
Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, during his budget presentation, told the National Assembly yesterday that the sum will cover the commencement of construction of a new terminal building, aprons, air-bridges, taxiways and the extension of the runway by an additional 3,500 feet.
Last November, the Jamaican media had reported that the airport will benefit from a US$138 million expansion project, which will be undertaken by the Chinese engineering firm, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).
The authorities had noted in the contract, which was signed with CHEC, and laid in Parliament earlier this month, that the airport’s terminal building as it is cannot meet peak traffic demand. It was noted too that a modern facility is crucial to support the development of the tourism industry.
The expansion project is also expected to see a reduction of airport operating costs, improve airport efficiency and increase passenger comfort. It includes the construction of modern facilities: a new two-storey terminal building west of the existing one, several air-bridges to link aircraft to the new terminal and the extension of the primary runway by an additional 1,066 metres. It is set to be completed over a 32-month period.
Meantime, the Finance Minister noted yesterday that a sum of $40 million was spent on the maintenance of 43 domestic aerodromes in regions 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9. This year, he said, $180 million is budgeted for the rehabilitation of airstrips at Lethem, Imbaimadai and at Ekereku Bottom in Region 7. The sum will also cover the ongoing maintenance of 43 airstrips across the country.
In addition, Singh said, $68 million will be expended on high frequency radio and security systems in order to improve air navigation services and safety.