Runway and airfield work to start at ORIA

| 16/05/2019 | 88 Comments
Cayman News Service

Owen Roberts International Airport

(CNS): Officials from the Cayman Islands Airports Authority have revealed plans to begin work on upgrading the airfield and runway at Owen Roberts International Airport in the next phase of operation and safety improvements this summer. The authority has almost completed the work on the terminal upgrades and this next phase of exterior work consists of five sub-projects, including extending the runway by 124 metres and establishing airfield perimeter road. In a release from the authority, CIAA CEO Albert Anderson said the project had gone through the design phase and is now going through the tendering process.

“With the transition into the new Owen Roberts International Airport terminal nearing full completion, despite the many challenges we faced with operations during all of the construction phases, we now turn our focus to implementing the ORIA airfield upgrades,” he said.

No costs have been revealed yet for this exterior project but the airport has faced considerable criticisms for the budget and time overruns during the terminal upgrade. The price tag on that is now estimated to be around $70 million, compared with the original price tag of around $55 million. But that has included additional upgrades not originally planned as well as covering the cost of unexpected hitches.

The redevelopment was planned at a time when the airport was in desperate need of an upgrade but the government coffers were bare. Now, with air arrival numbers soaring to ever increasing heights, there has been talk of another expansion to the airport because the pace of growth at the airport is outstripping the projections made in the authority’s 2013 masterplan. This means that a new terminal may be added to the current facility in as little as five years.

Anderson explained that as the CIAA begins work on the airfield areas, careful planning and consideration has been given to completing the runway works in a safe and timely manner to provide the highest quality end product.

“With only one runway serving ORIA, the options were to complete the runway works at night over some 20 weeks, or to have closures during low traffic days and completed in a shorter timeframe and to a higher quality,” the airport boss said.

A decision was made to have closures during the day in order to meet the key objectives of the both the airport and the airlines using it. “We are grateful for the airlines’ full support of this project, which will take approximately eight weeks to complete,” Anderson said.

The full works include milling and re-paving the existing runway surface and filling the ponds on the airfield perimeter, as well as the runway extension of 124 meters to the west of threshold 08. Alongside the new airfield perimeter road, the work includes expanding the international ramp in an easterly direction to accommodate either a single CODE E hardstand, or two CODE C hardstands.

The work will see eight consecutive runway closures in September and October, occurring every Monday evening at 10pm local time after the last flight movement of the day and reopening the following Wednesday at 6am before the first flight movement of the day, enabling a continuous period of 31 hours of work each week. Contingencies will be in place for emergency flight operations during these closures.

These runway closure dates, posted below, have been selected based on historical data that identifies this eight-week period as having the least demand for air carrier service at ORIA, officials stated.

Any unforeseen project delays due to inclement weather or other complications beyond the control of the authority that might impact the ability to complete the runway surface work during this time will not result in further closures of the runway, officials added in the release.

If more time is needed for the runway rehabilitation it will happen at night after the last scheduled air carrier service and re-open the following day before the first flight.

All other sub projects will fall outside of the runway closures and will have limited effect on arrivals or departures, officials said.

“We are very grateful for the travelling public’s ongoing cooperation as we work to improve the infrastructure at ORIA, and in particular for their support of this initiative to reduce the timeframe and increase the safety of this necessary runway pavement work,” Anderson added.

The dates for the scheduled ORIA runway closures are as follows:

Phase Date/Time of Closure Date/Time of Opening
Closure 1 Monday, 2 September 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, 4 September 6:00 a.m.
Closure 2 Monday, 9 September 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, 11 September 6:00 a.m.
Closure 3 Monday, 16 September 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, 18 September 6:00 a.m.
Closure 4 Monday, 23 September 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, 25 September 6:00 a.m.
Closure 5 Monday, 30 September 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, 2 October 6:00 a.m.
Closure 6 Monday, 7 October 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, 9 October 6:00 a.m.
Closure 7 Monday, 14 October 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, 16 October 6:00 a.m.
Closure 8 Monday, 21 October 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, 23 October 6:00 a.m.
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Category: development, Local News

Comments (88)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Dr Hortor hospital?

  2. Anonymous says:

    That was renovation not a expansion airport, ciaa have more $$ than sense! The airport is not even complete and a new one is needed in 10 yrs=jokers, Bracka.

    • Anonymous says:

      And still with no jet ways. Only modern airport in the Caribbean without them. Just plain stupid.

      • Anonymous says:

        Just had the fun of using CIAA “mobile weather protection/ jet bridge substitute “ aka an umbrella in a torrential downpour. Better than nothing. Problem being they take them back at the top of the stairs so you get royally soaked when trying to get in through the door. Plus they don’t have enough so some poor staff member has to stand on the stairs collecting them then go back to the walkway to hand over the batch to the next group. And the whole galley area is sopping wet – doesn’t look that safe.

    • Anonymous says:

      It was both. Plus the design appears to accomodate future expansion when needed.

      • Anonymous says:

        How? For Expansion they would need to go up at least one floor and put in elevators..I don’t see any preparation or ability to do that with this building..

  3. Anonymous says:

    What about legal documents that need to arrive on a Tuesday or directors who need to fly in on their private jets on Tuesdays? Bad news if you want to compete with Singapore. Minister Rivers were you consulted?

    • Anonymous says:

      Minister Rivers is useless, she’s has done nothing but travel since she’s been in office. Just another pig sucking from the trough

    • Anonymous says:

      Would it have made a difference..Tara can’t even get the beach accesses situation sorted out..Keep her away from the airport..

  4. Anonymous says:

    I don’t truck with the whinging in most of the posts, but do agree that if not already done the Airports Authority should acquire as soon as possible a new site. Of course many will complain against the cost and the location even if it’s actually crown land.

  5. New Caymanian says:

    Here is a chart of the hurricanes which impacted Cayman over the past 130 years:

    You can see the chart peaks during the exact period that the Airport authority is planning to close our single runway for 1/6 of the week.

    Today, there are 50% more people on the island than there were during the period preceding Hurricane Ivan in 20014.. That storm did not strike us directly like the more recent hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the BVI, but because Cayman is surrounded by deeper water and much lower to the sea than any other islands in the Caribbean, affected us much more significantly.

    Why on God’s green Earth would our leaders allow their planners to roll the dice with the souls of that live in the Cayman Islands, knowing these unassailable facts?

    There is absolutely no good reason to keep the islands only major airport closed for a 24 hour stretch during such a treacherous time!

    It is better to have a runway and not need it, than to need a runway and not have it. We must have a backup plan that doesn’t trigger premiums in the contract to the construction/paving companies in the event of inclement weather.

    • Kadafe says:

      You do know and understand that they can predict hurricanes few days out right? Now let’s take a second here and play this out, your thinking that a hurricane will show up suddenly like in a snap of a finger and no one will be able to leave cause they guys will be out working on the runway? Is that truly what you believe?

    • Anonymous says:

      You do understand that there is a significant number of ‘warning’ days preceding a hurricane strike. So I am quite confident that if there is a threat of a storm the shutdown scheduled for that week or two or three would not take place.

  6. Say it like it is says:

    To claim that the terminal work is almost completed is nonsense, just look at all the number of retail outlets in the departure area that have still not opened, not to mention the upper level of the terminal which consists of a maze of temporary dry walling.Based on this precedent the runway improvements will run exceed the eight days scheduled. To say the airlines have given it their full support is disingenuous as they have no choice.
    My guess is that current renovation works will not be fully completed until close to the end of the year and will exceed the latest $70 million estimate.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yes what better time to have a large project going on at the airport having closures for days at a time

    Making it harder for hundreds of Caymanian students to get back to their tertiary education institutions
    and right in the middle of the most active portion of hurricane season

    What could possibly go wrong…

    Its like no one at the CIG thinks

  8. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps they should consider allowing fights to Cayman Brac on Tuesday by small aircrafts and then US flights from the Brac. Really third world to simply to international flights on Tuesdays

    • Anonymous says:

      Okay all bellyachers on here

      It’s Friday CayMas evening

      Go enjoy unna selves, nah!

      • Anonymous says:

        Some people actually care about reality around here

        You know, actual issues

        • Anonymous says:

          You mean caring to complain because you did not get to suck from the trough, this go around?

          Helping is a much different thing!

    • Anonymous says:

      And where are the small aircraft going to take off from – the Bypass? And how many Twin Otters do you think it would take to fill all the 737s that are scheduled each day?

  9. Ron Ebanks says:

    Now this is smart intelligent investment.for the Government to be doing , not a cruise ship pier .

  10. Anonymous says:


  11. Anonymous says:

    Just took a flight out. Boy have you noticed the stink of microwaved (?) food coming out of the section containing Subway ? Everyone sat in the 2 or 3 rows there could smell it. Gross. No extractor fans ?

  12. Anonymous says:

    124 meters is 413 feet which means the runway will be extended past the road that The CIG just spent how much money linking up to a roundabout? Are they moving the road or closing it? The CIG is wasting our money!! Let’s not even get into the traffic flow from the Airport Foster’s Food Fair area to The CNB roundabout when they close this road. Anyone else notice when they get pressure on one project they try to distract the public with details on another one and then they wonder why we don’t trust them!

  13. Anonymous says:

    When will CIAA disclose the preferred bidder following their tendering process? Has a final contract been signed?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Great idea to plan this during PRIME HURRICANE SEASON!! I would expect nothing less.

  15. Richard Arch says:

    History repeats itself remember Hazzard Pond? Those that forget history shall be forced to repeat it.
    by: Been There.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I just love how mother nature changing your visitors plans! Celebrate sargassum!

    • Anonymous says:

      Sargassum is not a such a bad thing.

      Nature does heal itself from time to time.

      Our beach ridges will strengthen

      Our beaches will receive new sand

      Our Coastal sea life will prosper

      Actually it makes no sense…. I give up

      Our people…… 😰

  17. Anonymous says:

    Does the runway extension mean closing the road or moving it back? Just wondering if traffic has been taken into consideration.

  18. Brian Tomlinson says:

    Who is the contractor? Tenders were submitted 8 May 2019.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry the government can not answer that because it is all tied to CHEC getting all of the latest government jobs (port, dump, schools, airport), that way they can combine the whole lot together. Our wonderful leader will make a big announcement how his government got Cayman such a great & wonderful deal. The big sell out!

    • Anonymous says:

      More temp work permits one would never see any advts for jobs.

      • Anonymous says:

        Temporary permits; hell the CHEC group will wind up getting status papers!

      • Anonymous says:

        CHEC will be getting special employee status because there prices are so low. Also materials will be coming directly from China. Heard they are delivering a asphalt & concrete plant so all the local companies will be shut out. Unity all the way!

        • Anonymous says:

          That is correct because these plants are needed for the other major projects CHEC/Dart are undertaking. Look at the bright side though, we will be able to get some real authentic Chinese cooking now!

    • Anonymous says:

      You have no right to know. It is a state secret.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Now that the terminal is substantially complete can the CEO say when the CIAA will be filling the promised law suit against their chosen architectural firm that was blamed for the overruns and the excuse use to cover up the overspend.
    Now that Ezzard will not be chairman of the PAC you can bet there will never be a public hearing on this overspend and no one will be held accountable the 35% overrun will be covered up. Moses and his cronies manage to overspend a 50 million project by some 35% can you imagine what the overrun on the 300 million port will be.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Great work by the Airports Authority Staff and Board. Mr. Kirkland “Kirky” Nixon who was at the helm of the Board when the plan was kicked off would be proud to see the transformation of the old terminal into the new modern terminal and to know that the shared vision for the country’s airports is being carried forward.

    I am confident that one day Cayman will be also proud of a new cruise and cargo port. Perhaps, as has been the history with other national infrastructure projects, it will be spear headed by many of those who currently oppose it.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I just took a flight.

    The building looks nice. Stopping early to check in I noticed the short term parking ticket machine is too far from the curb and I had to get out of the car. Also when you pay, the machines do not give change, so I went looking to the far end of the building, another machine (no change), an unmanned “parking” booth so I found the souvenir store. What a terrible location for “last Chance” souvenirs, The tourists will never find them as they are not between check in and security.

    Churchill’s looks great, as does Jacque Scott, But why have some many stores not even begun construction?

    I can’t wait for something other than Island Taste. Always a lineup, never enough staff, and that crazy mandatory 15% tip for the pleasure of someone ringing in the two bottle of water you take from the cooler.

    This is a rip off!

    Unrelated to the runway… But all fresh memories.

    • Anonymous says:

      One should simply refuse to pay the 15% tip for bringing in 2 bottles of water.

      • Anonymous says:

        One should take an empty resusable water bottle with them and fill it at the water fountain provided for free

    • Anonymous says:

      One should go directly to the owner of Island Taste and ask why is he ripping us off?

    • Anonymous says:

      Honestly? What kind of vehicle were you driving? I been through both exits from short term parking and never experienced the issue you described.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Spending money like it shake off trees , just hope we don’t get on dry dock ,,,,hope unna remember rainy days, and hurricane season peeping round the corner .

  23. Anonymous says:

    So no Tuesday flights for 2 months!? Sounds like a great plan, especially for all the people who have already booked their Tuesday flights.

    • Jotnar says:

      Anyone else noticed American has cancelled their early morning flight out and their evening flight in as well – whole week, not just Tuesday. In fact think Tuesday was the one day they had kept the early flight! And try and book a BA flight in December – doesnt seem to be on the schedule at all. Think we have bigger problems than just closing the runway on Tuesdays.

      • Anonymous says:

        10:42 I wouldn’t read too much into what you see on the BA schedules, their website has been screwed up for months. I know BA has been trying to dump the loss-making LHR-GCM and LHR-PLS links through NAS for years but it’s never happened – probably because the UK government won’t let them.

        • Anonymous says:

          The writing is on the wall, The good: 140 odd metres = direct flights to LHR on B788/9 or perhaps A350, no NAS.
          The bad: Probably will be 2-3x flights per week instead of 5 or 6 on the 777.

      • Anonymous says:

        The AA flight change in the evening and hence morning is related to the Boeing issue and their lack of planes.

        • Anonymous says:

          Do these closing mean that they also will be fixing the parking machines that won’t take credit cards? It’s only been what, four years that they been promising to fix them.

      • Anonymous says:

        Please explain your comment Joyner. I flew to GC in April and American canceled my early morning flight the night before starting weather although the weather was fine and all flights went out the rest of the day. I tried to get compensated for my loss, but no compensation when it’s weather. Curious what you know or have noted w/ American early morning flights. Thanks!

        • Jotnar says:

          They cancelled the connecting flight for my trip next week. No compensation because it was a schedule change ie they decided to change the schedule! Wouldn’t pay for the overnight stay in the States either when they cancelled the evening flight. Now if you check their booking system all the evening flights and all the early morning flights are gone.

      • Anonymous says:

        its the 737 MAX issue .. which ads additional pressure to available airlift. You only need to lose 15% of your body’s water to die of dehydration even though we are made of 90% water.. Government planners are showing themselves incapable to close the islands sole method of evacuation during peak hurricane season while there are additional airlift issues due to the 737 MAX situation.

        I predict this comes back to snake them. Poor planning could endanger the lives of thousands.

      • Say it like it is says:

        The cancellation of the evening flight from Miami is a big problem as it means there is no longer any same day connection when flying from London to Cayman. Why have 2 flights leaving MIA in the morning and cancel the evening flight?.

  24. New Caymanian says:

    This would be a great time to focus on a new or second East End location for the airport on higher ground than ORIA. We could expand the existing Colliers Wilderness Road running East west in Gun Bay, which is practically already a runway. Rising sea levels of even a few inches could undermine or cause sinkholes in the existing ORIA foundation.

    If we are truly planning for the next 20-30 years and we’re discussing investing in still more terminals, it’s helpful to consider that heavy lift aircraft operators require a diversionary airport in event of emergency flight abort. It simply isn’t practical to have a single airstrip in one location without taxiways — The idea of closing our single runway for an entire Tuesday underscores the precarious nature of our airlift situation for the time-being, and doing duo in September October (the peak hurricane season) when storms can whip ups in days, is just dumb planning.

    If the government is flush with funds and in a surplus situation thanks to the good governance of our leaders, now is the time to be bold and act audaciously for the future. Let’s run the Country like a business and borrow to build an airport for the future on higher elevations in the eastern districts, or at a minimum build an additional diversionary runway and taxiways which can be expanded when time and duty call.

    Closing the airport each Tuesday to lay partial sections of asphalt is a bandaid and lacks the vision Cayman needs to build the infrastructure our grandchildren will live with.

    • Anonymous says:

      Too much commonsense to appeal to CIG. You need to put it in terms they understand, not benefit to the country and the tourism product. Look at all the “opportunities” a simple $55m (cough) airport expansion offered us. Look at all the pushback we are getting on the dock, which may be scuppered by the referendum. How about we launch a completely new airport with two runways. Lots of construction in that, at least a $200 million spend and plenty of “opportunities” to replace those we may lose on the port. Chinese will be as happy building an airport as a dock. And hey, the public may actually support that, apart from the Bodden Town and East End, and they vote for independents anyway!

  25. Anonymous says:

    The Unity Team has tied all these projects in for CHEC so they can make a clean sweep: port, airport, dump, schools and all Darts upcoming projects. Great job Unity team.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Just curious, wouldn’t it be better to close the airport at 10pm every night Monday through Thursday and reopen it at 5am each morning and get this over and done quickly? We did this before when they resurfaced the runway some years ago and it work seamlessly….Cancelling all Tuesday flights for 8 weeks seems a bit excessive…

    • Anonymous says:

      it already is closed 10-5 every night! How much do you think could be done in 7 hours? After each lifted section a ramp need to be built to connect to the existing surface. The next lift needs to mill that ramp off first, then lift and build another new ramp to the existing surface. If there is no ramp how do you thinks planes are going to use the runway in the day? Seven hours is just not practical.

      • Local Engineer says:

        It was successfully done in 1992 with local engineers and contractors. I don’t think the Canadian engineers have a good understanding of local conditions.

        • Anonymous says:

          The Canadian engineers seem to have done a great job with the Bermuda, Nassau and Montego Bay airports. You really think your local engineers are that brilliant?

        • Anonymous says:

          Said some local engineer or contractor who thinks he knows more about airport construction and building runways than Canadian engineers, who have been building airports in the Caribbean and around the world for the past 50 years.

          • Local Engineer says:

            They had to issue nine addendums to modify the tender documents so the CIAA could get a reasonable price. They were major changes too. All because they had no idea what they were doing.

      • Anonymous says:

        Really it was done before and the airport was only closed at night? Are they doing something differently…They are not doing anything to the ramp according to this article it is just the runway, filling the ponds and adding additional ramp space to the east of the current the ramp has nothing to do with it.

        Can you imagine if one of the large airports like Miami had to close their airport every Tuesday just to redo their runway? Seven hours is a long time to get work done and in fact they could simply ask the airline to be on the ground by 7pm each day rather than cancelling all the flights in and out on Tuesdays..

  27. Anonymous says:

    Not all tourist can be high quality that’s just life but the cruise tourists play a important role in the economy as well, and both need to be upgraded, if not a cruise port then upgrade the tender service, the tenders don’t even have decent gangways when they get to the dock it look real rickety sometimes, so hopefully some enhancements take place

  28. Anonymous says:

    Good work, the airport brings in many high quality tourists who spend lots of money in our economy. Shame the same can’t be said about the proposed port…

    • Anonymous says:

      The air passengers are much better looking too. The compared to what comes off Carnival ships, the competition is starting from a very low base. A very wide base, but a low one.

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