New airport won’t drain public purse

| 31/08/2018 | 59 Comments

(CNS): The Owen Roberts International Airport expansion is not breaking the Cayman Islands Government’s bank, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell stressed Tuesday at the Topping Out Ceremony, when the final roof beam was put in place over the new facility. Although government has not said what it expects the final cost of the project to be, officials have indicated it is at least 10% more than the original $55 million, with speculation that changes and overruns could have added more than 25% onto that first estimate. But the minister said the increases were covered as public finances have improved and the government was able to invest more in additional features.

“Obviously, when you get a mandate that says you need to build a new airport, but you can’t borrow any money, there are times when you have to depend on your colleagues to help you push it forward,” Kirkconnell said, as he railed against the critics of the project and emphasised the need for the new facility.

“The next step, as a government that continued to do better and was put in a (better) cash position, we started looking at improvements which could be made but were obviously going to be more than the original budget, so you have that component to it.”

The project has been paid for from airport revenue, and Kirkconnell said it one of the only airports in the region that is owned 100% by its people.

Owen Roberts International Airport, Cayman News Service

The ‘topping out’ of the airport expansion

With the expansion scheduled to open by year’s end, the minister said the ceremony was a practice run for the ribbon cutting in December.  The new development will be more than 200,000 sqft and allow for up to 2.5 million passengers to fly into Grand Cayman each year. In 2017, the airport processed 1.2 million passengers.

Tourism Director Rosa Harris said the airport is a big part of visitors’ experience. “We want to be able to process the passengers as quickly as possible and welcome them to CaymanKind,” she said. With a 13% increase this year so far for visitors after a long run of consistent growth in stay-over arrivals, the new expansion project will be an important factor in efforts to sustain that growth.

Cayman Islands Airport Authority CEO Albert Anderson announced upcoming plans for the airport starting in the next few weeks, when all 39 check-in counters will be in operation, as well as new security check points.

In September the immigration section will be expanding to its full size. The departure lounge will host a food court, children’s play area and a breastfeeding area for mothers. Two additional gates will be implemented around the beginning of September, bringing the total number to nine.

In October, the meet and greet arrivals hall will expand and include a tourism booth. The grand entry hall is expected to be finished by the end of November.

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Category: Business, development, Local News, Tourism, Transport

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  1. Anonymous says:


  2. Anonymous says:

    We needed the airport but we need to becareful with the extra funds and surpluses. We are spending like we forget that we got huge pension liabilities, like we dont need to be debt free, like we dont need a soverign wealth fund. Already saying scholarships for all students are unsubstantiatable but somehow this recent increease in spending is. Airport is a plus as it brings money in but I am cautious that a spend spend spend mentality is developing. Remeber we use to give CI 30,000 for overseas scholarships that was reduced 10 years ago to CI 20,000 and now they saying its cant maintain at the same time giving raises to teachers. Building our youth up only to tell them you cant get the final bit of education.

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      Really? Are you kidding me? $20,000, that’s it for the YEAR? We ought to be spending that just on the Sister Islands and ten times that in scholarships for Grand. Incredible. University costs much more now than it did when I was in school 40 years ago.

      I have to hope I misunderstood, and that’s $20,000 PER STUDENT. Even that is an extremely low figure.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yep the amount is 20k CI per year which barely covers the cost international students face in Canada and can cover UK fees depending on housing costs

        The US… forget about it, not even an option without a loan or forking over some serious cash

        The irony is the people who paid pennies on the dollar in the US to get their educations in the 50s and 60s turned around and decided to XXXX over all new generations of students with a greedy for profit system of education, while they run out the back door with the profits

        Unless of course someone is going to claim it has become 6-8 times more expensive to shove students into sardine can sized rooms and let them fall asleep in a lecture hall

        Land of the free? HA
        Home of the indebted

        • Jotnar says:

          You do realize that in the vast majority of countries parents and or students pay for their own tertiary education? Cayman is pretty unique in that parents seem to expect that the taxpayer should foot the bill for their kids to go to university.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Not to mention the costly rental of tents and outdoor toilet units from a local supplier at the tone of CI$600 per day!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I bet that floor or some floor inside the airport will be black and white checkerboard pattern signifying the lodge connections!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Way to go Mo$e$ Trump, you tell them, you the man, because no matter what you do or say, you will always have your critics.

  6. Anonymous says:

    And if there is ever a movie that is looking for a set for a drab 1980s fly-over state regional airport, they know where to look.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Always best to assume long-term public amenity contracts will cost 15% more than planned, take 15% longer to build and will deliver 85% of promised value.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Food what a joke just the same old rip off boring hungry horse, exactly the same duty free and toot shops no idea and no imagination. Just like Moses, Alden and the rest.
    Ps I bet everyone who got a concession is also a mate. You rub my back I rub yours.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I am so proud to see this project finally being completed. Successive governments talked about rebuilding the airport for 20 years. Now it has happened.

    I arrived in the island on Monday. I was amazed smiling immigration and customs officers and no forms to complete. From plane door to my car in short term parking 18 min. No checked bag. Now that’s world class.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can’t be talking about the same airport. Customs and immigration still require you to complete a form

      • Anonymous says:

        Caymanians don’t have to fill out the immigration form, and if you are under your duty free allowance, you don’t have to fill out the customs form.

        • Anonymous says:

          Tell that to the people who have been told off for not doing it.

          • Anonymous says:

            I assume you mean the Customs form? Teething troubles with a very different system and officers not quite sure of their grounds.But they are getting there (in my view). Well done them.

            • Anonymous says:

              Teething problems! How hard can this be? As small as we are it takes almost nothing to let every customs officer know that forms are not required.

        • Anonymous says:

          The point is you still have to complete forms. Caymanian or otherwise. I travel almost every week and can assure you that the customs forms are still required to be completed

        • Anonymous says:

          customs are still requiring caymanians to fill out the form

      • Anonymous says:

        Like almost every country in the world, Immigration will require non-Caymanians to complete a landing form. Customs only require you to complete a form if you have something to declare, if you are non-Caymanian you’ll have to complete a form

        Of course, you can speed passenger flows by not having Immigration/ Customs at all, but I know they are also increasing refusals and arrests.

      • Anonymous says:

        NO they don’t unless you have dutiable items to declare there are no forms to fill out!

        • Anonymous says:

          They still search you for EVER even when you are within your allowance!

          Progress my a$$.

          • Anonymous says:

            Customs searches take place all over the world. Everybody whines about them. Then not unique to Cayman

            • Anonymous says:

              In most countries you are sent to another lane and your bags subject to x-ray and only then is your bag searched if something suspicious shows up. Here, you have to endure a long wait while the customs guy pulls out the underwear of the lady in front for all to see because she came off the Kingston flight.

        • Fred the Piemaker says:

          I came through the airport 2 weeks ago. The airline told us to fill in the form, and sure enough there was a customs guy asking for forms. Don’t care what Charles Clifford said publicly, in the case of our flight forms were definitely being asked for even though few people were then inspected.

    • Say it like it is says:

      8.30pm When I last arrived several weeks ago I got soaked twice, from the plane to the immigration area and again walking about 400 yds to my car in the long term car park.. In the baggage hall although it was an evening flight with no other arrival we waited 25 minutes for the first bags to arrive.I can’t imagine what it would be like to arrive at a second class airport. I must agree however that the customs and immigration officers were very efficient and friendly.
      Also for the enlightenment of 7.55am I think the word you were looking for was “unsustainable”.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I think it looks decent enough. You people realize it’s not finished, right?

  11. frequent lyer says:

    I just can’t get over these magnificent arches that crown our “world class airport”. ORIA will now be the jewel of the Caribbean, it’s architecture rivalling the Taj Mahal and pulling in even even greater hordes of visitors to view the “grand entry hall” and walk beneath our imposing arches. As Rosa rightly says “it will be a big part of the visitors experience”. Next up, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Love it…I think you will find those arches are for the new high class Golden Arches restaurant that will be there 🙂

  12. Anonymous says:

    And yet when you get your baggage there is one customs guy doing something and three walking around doing nothing.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Unattended funds will be “coffin-skated”

  14. Anonymous says:

    At the green-lighting of this project, CIAA’s capital included a $10mln+ receivable from Cayman Airways stemming from unpaid fees. CAL then received an extra bailout from Cabinet. Let’s count that too. Pay attention because the shell game and smoke and mirrors inside CIG rambles on.

    • Say it like it is says:

      4.03pm I was going to raise the same point, Cayman Airways were always owing vast amounts for not only landing fees but departure taxes which the passengers paid and which was absorbed into CAL’s revenue stream and not paid over to the CIAA/Gov’t. I wonder what the situation is now?.

    • Anonymous says:

      And do not forget the $15 million that came from the Treasury to start the project.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The airport redevelopment is a great and much needed project. However, I have to ask why we didn’t go up to a second full level? Wouldn’t it had made more sense, or at least not install these big steel arches that will no doubt cost money to remove.

    I assume that 30 years from now, we will need to expand once more.

    But never the less, much needed.

    • Anonymous says:

      No you won’t because this island will be f€d by then because of success greedy MLA.
      The tourist industry will be on its knees and at the behold of Dart

  16. Anonymous says:

    I think this is a joke?? CNS?

  17. Overspending. says:

    So what about the cost of cleaning the floor monthly becuase some idiot ordered the wrong flooring, which is not designed for airports and the traffic.
    Word has it the quote they got from a local company will cost $250k per month, yes $250k.
    Why hasn’t this been DISCUSSED? CNS ask the Authorities about the above and see if they give you a straight answer. I would be interested in their reply and am sure the rest of the island would as well.

    • Anonymous says:

      To clean the floor? 250k? I’d like to see proof of that statement cause that’s ridiculous even for this crazy island.

      • Overspending says:

        There are 4 main cleaning companies on island probably only 2 able to do the job, call them up or get a freedom of information request. I got this from the horses mouth from one of these cleaning companies who provided one of these quotes whilst a little under the influence, amazing what people will tell you.

  18. Anonymous says:

    had the please or is it displeasure of coming through there a few weeks ago and it looks very much like a prison block, very drab for all the money that has been spent you would have thought that they could have made it look and feel much better, very disappointing

  19. Anonymous says:

    The departure area seating is already maxed out, at least the last time I flew out a few months ago.

    • Anonymous says:

      Same. It’s not better than before. The one place to get food and drinks is backed up and the design is barfo.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I sincerely hope now. Can’t say the same thing about the dock!

  21. Anonymous says:

    ‘Kirkconnell said it (is) one of the only airports in the region that is owned 100% by its people.’ And that’s a plus point? At least if it was privately owned you’d have professional, profit-motivated management rather than people who know that all their expensive foul ups will be funded by CIG.

    • Anonymous says:

      Plenty of models of airports that are publicly owned but have dynamic management teams and workforce. A privately owned airport here would almost certainly mean foreign owned, with tax concessions, and every top executive a foreigner. Who would that benefit?

      • Anonymous says:

        All we’re missing from that is the, ‘dynamic management team and workforce,’ and that’s the problem.

        Huge airports like MIA and JFK may be public sector operated but they’re run as businesses in full collaboration with the private sector. Do you see that at ORIA?

        • Anonymous says:

          In all honesty no – but I’m glad we agree (I think?) that a publicly owned ORIA is best for the Cayman Islands. It just needs to be much better run.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I don’t get it. With the airport + increased airlift and cruise port + presumed increase in ships and passengers, Moses is putting stay-over and cruise tourism on course for a violent, fatal collision. We can’t go 100% on both, or our attractions will be damaged and lost and local quality of life will suffer unacceptably, damaging the appeal of visiting, living and working here too. We know that, and our visitors know that. If we choose one over the other, then we can make all the other big choices that need to be made and have a successful future. If we don’t, eventually we end up with nothing but white-elephant infrastructure, debt, regret, and eventually poverty. I can only conclude he and his colleagues are blind and should not be driving.

    One thing is clear: we cannot have a government in Cayman with more than two terms. One is just enough time to figure out how to get re-elected in four years and plan what you intend to do with the second four years. By the end of that period of time in power, you cannot help but be carrying out a grand plan at the expense of others. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. What appears to us as a lack of vision is in reality an inability to see a vision hidden from us but which very much exists as the product of too much time spent thinking and talking about how to use power. A third term and they think you deserve whatever comes to you because you were too stupid to stop it by voting them out. But choosing between the Unity Government and the scraggle of uneducated bumblers led by Ezzard is not an appealing choice either.

    I do not like what the future holds for us, short, medium or long term, despite all the confetti at the moment.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said. Surely having a direct Financial business interest would normally prevent you being tourism minister on the grounds your decision making might be subject to personal interests?

  23. Bean Counter says:

    Nothing the ppm says or does costs what they say it is supposed to cost or come within budget. Multiple examples include Clifton Hunter High School, John Gray High School, current airport project 30% cost overruns , the Board walk in south sound, the dock project which will be the costliest of all disasters. Look at the track record of mismanagement. How can we believe anything they claim when they do not demonstrate they understand transparency and project management competence?

  24. Anonymous says:

    shambolic planning and re-development which will be paid for the people in the long run….
    why let them do an airport expansion when they can’t even get parking ticket machine to work!!!

  25. Anonymous says:

    this nonsense ‘expansion’ will be paid for by the cutomers….look for airport charges to go up along with duty free, food and drink at the airport

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