Golden shovels start airport project

| 10/09/2015 | 27 Comments
Cayman News Service

ORIA groundbreaking ceremony

(CNS): The airport renovations at Owen Roberts International Airport will be completed by early 2018, the tourism minister said on Wednesday before he and airport officials turned over the first earth at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the project. Describing it as a “long and challenging journey” spanning several administrations, Moses Kirkconnell said he was proud to be able to start the project after the PPM had pledged to provide a world-class airport during the election campaign.

Deputy Premier Kirkconnell joined Premier Alden McLaughlin in emphasizing that, after many years of talking about the much-needed project, it was the Progressives who made it happen, and all while following best practice. The DP said it was the first major public sector infrastructure project to begin after following the full process, as required under the Public Finance and Management Law and under the watchful eye of the Central Tenders Committee.

As a result, he said, the project would lead to value for money and the best possible outcome as there had been “no short cuts or side steps” in the process.

The first tender for the baggage handling area was won by Arch and Godfrey and this first phase should be completed in March in readiness for the next major phase, which is expected to be tendered within the next few months.

Kirkconnell said he has often been quoted for saying the process was open and transparent but he said it was worth repeating because that in itself was an achievement.

With over 300,000 people travelling through ORIA per year and the figures growing year on year, Kirkconnell spoke about the continued growth in tourism and the responsibility of the government to manage the sector.

“Our people depend on us to bring the solutions and grow our market share as a leading tourist destination,” he noted.

Kirkconnell said the tourism industry was important to the broader community because people depend on this pillar of the economy for jobs and business opportunities. He said it attracted investment and it was important that government provided the infrastructure development to support the growth of the sector.

He said overcrowding at airport had been a good problem to have as it illustrated the growth in stay-over tourism but now the airport had to be upgraded in order to provide the much-needed first-rate travel experience and meet the expectations of visitors.

“When they have a good experience they come back,” he added, as he pointed to the need to focus energies on getting visitors to return.

The tourism ministry and the Cayman Islands Airports Authority had worked hard to get the right new airport development to fit the needs within the budget, he said, and while not every option was included, that would not prevent the renovation turning ORIA into a top quality facility.

The groundbreaking ceremony included the entire Cabinet, as well as the governor and the majority of the airport management and senior civil servants, as officials congratulated themselves on beginning the long-awaited redevelopment.

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Comments (27)

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  1. Rp says:

    Great news. Nice to see something moving forward.

    Now please apply lessons learned from the schools and admin building and keep project on time and budget PPM.

    • Anonymous says:


      A year late and 20-25% over budget

      Gotta love that 3 years later concerns are proven right

  2. All Seeing says:

    How much they pay for them shovels? Could have bought some toilet paper for the schools.

  3. Anonymous says:

    i forsee even higher airport charges and passenger fees…..$600 to miami…….

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for speaking up. As at Jan 2015, of the projected $120mln, CIAA were owed $10.5mln due from CAL’s latest installment of chronically delinquent airport passenger facilities fees since CAL’s previous CIG bailout for roughly same amount just five years earlier in 2010. Moses and Whorms in May 2015 proclaimed that CAL will magically retire this major receivable to the CIAA, without elaborating further. Transparency would be explaining how they plan to do that with the airline’s long history of spending money earmarked for other purposes. Meanwhile we know CIG is still paying CAL $18mln a year, not as a “subsidy”, but as a “purchase of services to support the tourism industry and support for sister islands”, and an additional $5.1mln CIG gift in service payments for the airline’s legacy debt carrying costs. By all accounts it sounds like the CIG will saddle a further $10.5mln to some future regime to wrestle with down the line. Then we are told that CAL is doing great and will “break even” for the first time ever this year because they bought their planes, and lower fuel costs…queue the applause. With all the career accountants and financial intelligence resident on this island, I am always amazed that this kind of inter-governmental balance sheet shuffling goes unchallenged – the math is easy and it is all public domain info. In the absence of any clarification from CIAA, Moses, or Whorms, this is what the public has to go on.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Always good to see the top cats getting down to some hard work for a change. If I was in charge I’d keep them shoveling for at least a couple of hours.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear “Mr.Troll”. It was a joke, okay? You need a another half-pint of shandy, friend!

      • Anonymous says:

        Trolled you for taking offense at a trolling. Everyone is fair game on here. I suspect there is at least one person on here trolling everything just to get the kind of response you gave him.

        • Anonymous says:

          I suspect you are on to something here. In the eighties, there’d been a “leak” about something or other from government, involving Mr.Benson, I recall. The Caymanian Compass issued an hilarious – screamingly restrained – front page headline “Find the Mole”. Perhaps CNS should launch a similar appeal, if indeed there is a rogue individual out there “on the troll’, so to speak? Just a suggestion, you understand. Thank you.

      • Anonymous says:

        Trolled you because you complained about trolling and it really was not a joke worth wasting a few bytes of a server with.

    • Anonymous says:

      They are good at shoveling — cow dung — this is a normal day to day job— for these folks

  5. Anonymous says:

    Absutely stellar job by Moses Alden and the entire PPM.
    You’ve taken a lot of fire recently but you are a group we can trust and be proud of to lead our country.
    Luke so many other projects our country desperately needed we thank you for making the new airport a reality.
    Let’s keep the momentum moving and keep improving Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Calm down folks. It’s just a room with two luggage carousels.

      Don’t forget that these are the same PPM “rocket surgeons” (thank you for that gem unknown poster!) who gave us Clifton Hunter, now immortalized in the recent education report as a $180,000,000 educational impediment.

  6. F. Cal Matters says:

    That bunch should be shoveling something. Dirt at the airport ain’t it.

  7. Tim says:

    This is exactly what happens when the elected government civil servants and the public authorities all work together and follow best practise. Congrats. The FFR works ….who needs Chinese. We did this!!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Good grief! Something positive! Politicians breaking ground instead of breaking wind!

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, er, expressed. And thank goodness – humour is still alive in the Cayman Islands!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Trumanomics: Cayman Airways makes a profit after government subsidy.

    • Anonymous says:

      Government pays Cayman Airways to fly tourism routes. If CAL was to operate as a stand alone business they would only fly the routes that are profitable. Sounds ok except that our tourism and wider economy would suffer greatly. The multiplier effect of what CAL brings to Cayman’s economy is over 200m and that has been proved by KPMG. Other countries have to pay millions to American to fly in an that’s without even owning anything, no assets. At least with CAL we control our own destiny.

      • Sam says:

        Then what is profitable if not tourism routes? A route to the moon?

      • Diogenes says:

        Your argument is that AA, Delta, United etc wouldn’t fly here unless Cayman Airways was operating? How does that even begin to make sense.? AA CEO – “Lets cut the route to Cayman – ooh no, we cannot, because they have a domestic airline”. Sheesh. The route is either economic – and they fly it – or it is not – in which case they fly it if they are paid a subsidy to do (which we do not, but would probably be way cheaper than paying Cayman Airways). Given we have multiple airlines flying the route without any subsidy (other than Cayman Airways of course) and the only apparent commercial restriction is that they are not allowed to undercut Cayman Airways, looks pretty clear which it is. Only difference – they do not guarantee airlift in a hurricane (and I suggest we could charter a hell of a lot of that for $18.5 million a year) and they don’t give free seats to prominent Caymanians, politicians and friends of the staff.

  10. Anonymous says:

    What’s better than handing out truck keys? Playing Bob the Builder with shiny helmets and shovels.

    Cayman is fifteen to twenty years behind schedule on this and that is a black eye for all previous administrations who ignored this vital upgrade.

  11. Anonymous says:

    What has not been transparent at all is whether CAL has finally paid the delinquent passenger fees to CIAA representing 20% of the proposed budget for this project. If CAL spent it, this significant shortfall will have to come from somewhere else in CIG dept budgets. Spending money twice does not improve our fiscal situation and all the people that ought to know better are holding these shovels.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Congrats to the PPM administration for starting this most important project with such clarity and transparency, and no sign of crookedness and corruption thus far.

    Alden and Moses – If you can get a start on the cable car system for the cruise berthing facility (very minimal impact on the environment from all proposals submitted thus far) following the same process of transparency as the airport – what an accomplishment this would be for the PPM administration !!

    I’m a UDP voter from West Bay but with the airport project getting off the ground, the PPM already has half of my family’s vote. If you start the cruise berthing facility, then my full vote and many other votes will follow the PPM administration directly to the next general election.

    Big Mac and his chinese engineering friends will become a thing of the past.

  13. Anonymous says:

    About time. This has been talked about for decades. Congratulations to all involved.

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