Benefits of new $76M airport project to ‘trickle down’

| 31/05/2023 | 201 Comments
  • Expansion projects Cayman Islands airports, Cayman News Service
  • Expansion projects Cayman Islands airports, Cayman News Service
  • Expansion projects Cayman Islands airports, Cayman News Service
  • Expansion projects Cayman Islands airports, Cayman News Service

(CNS): The Cayman Island Government (CIG) has approved a $28 million expansion of the runway into the North Sound at Owen Roberts International Airport and a $42 million rebuild of the General Aviation Terminal for private jets. Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan said Tuesday that Cabinet had given the green light to four elements of the Airport Authority’s new master plan totalling CI$76 million, the benefits of which will “trickle down” to the people.

The outline business case that has been approved includes four projects. The other two, with more modest price tags, are the modernisation of air traffic control, which will cost $4.7M, and work on the runway-end safety area at Charles Kirkconnell International Airport on Cayman Brac, priced at just $1.15M.

At the press conference on Tuesday, officials said that the four projects would be financed through an increase in the airport terminal tax to CI$5 and the creation of a new airport development fee of CI$15 during the period of construction, which is expected to begin in 2024 and end in 2029.

According to Bryan and Department of Tourism Director Rosa Harris, this investment in the runway and terminal will result in an increase in high-net-worth visitors to Cayman because larger planes from further afield and more private jets would be able to visit the island.

“With up to 25% of the Cayman Islands GDP derived from tourism, managing the capacity, capability and competitiveness of our airports is a strategic imperative that the Cayman Islands cannot ignore,” Bryan stated. “Government has outlined in its strategic policy statement the need to attract high-net-worth individuals to vacation in our islands.

“This objective has been recognised and included in government policy year over year, and yet the current General Aviation facility, which caters to private jets and high-net-worth individuals, is outdated, of low quality and is a poor representation of the Cayman Islands from a luxury brand perspective.”

Both Bryan and Harris said that attracting high-net-worth people would benefit local people eventually through trickle-down economics. Harris pointed to the expensive accommodation where these visitors will stay, though these are largely owned by the richest segment of Caymanian society and, in many cases, overseas investors.

Both the minister and the director spoke about the need for a sustainable tourism product. However, given the potential environmental impact, the additional pressures on infrastructure, the fact that direct benefits will be skewed to those serving the wealthiest visitors, it is not clear where the true sustainability balance lies or how this project will fit into the draft climate policy, once adopted by the government.

The costs of the project are not just limited to the dollar amount. There will also be significant costs to the marine environment and even more pressure on local infrastructure with the growth in visitors. The runway will be extended some 1,100 feet, but with the additional end of runway safety and turning areas, the strip will extend to around 1,900 feet into the ocean.

Cayman Islands Airports Authority CEO Albert Anderson said that the number of passengers passing through ORIA is expected to increase by 2% annually.

Following a series of public meetings last year about the proposed plans, local activists raised concerns that they had been developed in the absence of a master plan for the country as a whole that would define how to expand tourism in the face of climate change. Sustainable Cayman has said the proposals do not prioritise sustainability, despite the increasing uncertainty.

But in the first instance, the government has given the nod to these first four projects, which are part of a more than $800 million, 20-year master plan for all three airports. Bryan said the government had prioritised what was “necessary to address safety and regulatory concerns” and “provide the greatest business development opportunities that are affordable for the country, which provide a solid foundation to support continued growth”.

Now that Cabinet has given the thumbs up to the OBC for this $76 million project, the next steps are a public consultation process and starting environmental impact assessment (EIA), before the CIAA moves toward the procurement stage.

CIAA Senior Project Manager Roy Williams said that the mangrove buffer would not be touched during the development of the project. He said he was unsure about the impact on the marine environment, though he claimed that there was “only sea grass” in the area where the runway will be constructed. He explained that the EIA would guide the project engineering and design.

The project follows the controversial and costly redevelopment of the main terminal and runway work that was completed less than two years ago.

While various factors have been blamed for the problems outlined by the auditor general, from changes and additions to issues with the consultants, the project was $20 million over budget and almost a year late.

Bearing those issues in mind, the current chair of the CIAA board, Johann Moxam, said that he and the other members were taking a conservative approach and they would be monitoring this next phase in the airport’s redevelopment closely. He said the board’s remit was to learn the lessons of the past.

“We will not be making the same sort of mistakes,” Moxam said, adding that the members and management have had some candid conversations and taken a deep dive into what went wrong last time.

“I will put my neck on the chopping block and say that we will not make the same mistakes of the previous administration and the previous board, and we are a lot more conservative,” he said and stated, “There is no one on our board with a pecuniary interest in any of the operations at the airport and no conflicts.”

See the full press briefing below on CIGTV:

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

Comments (201)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I just can’t. So many issues to fix before spending $42 million for rich people who don’t want to come here anyway. What about affordable housing? Special needs education? Fixing the health care system? A public transport system? RECYCLING and fixing the dump? And more and more that actually impact the Caymanian people and future generations. Let these a-holes go to Turks and Mykonos. They really don’t benefit us anyway! Trickle down doesn’t work! I really didn’t expect much from Kenneth “Billboards” Bryan – but this ego boosting exercise at the expense of real help and progress for his people he claims to love so much really makes me want to vomit. This is so ridiculous I don’t even know where to start.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I want to say unbelievable, but nothing surprises me here anymore. No busses or real plan for busses, but lets build a bigger airport for private jets and make the common man pay for it. Let’s vote these amateurs out and get a real government in here. Please.

  3. Anonymous says:

    CNS – can we find out what private jets are currently charged to use the private jet terminal?

    It is SHOCKING that Govt is planning to increase the fees on commercial passengers to fund the private jet terminal. There should be an UPROAR over this.

  4. Anonymous says:


  5. Anonymous says:

    And a longer runway even though no changes to the main airport terminal. Where are all these people from these larger planes going to fit in that terminal? (Not that I believe there will be enough demand for these large planes to fly from Europe anyway)

  6. Anonymous says:

    Let me get this straight….every single passenger who comes through is going to be charged an additional $20 fee in order to fund the private jet terminal?

    Govt needs to give its head a shake!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Why not shorten the runway and just install one of those rubber band thingy’s they use on the aircraft carriers instead? The reclaimed land would be ideal for low-cost housing.

    • A Caymanian says:

      Will the Minister inquire and tell the public if there has been a Risk Asessment completed on the projected increase volume of Aircraft and what mitigating factors are needed as well as enhanced equipment to ensure optimal safety and maintenance requirements are to be in play with the projected increased volume.

      The Minister has been heard to say time and time again that data is of maximum importance in making decisions. For the price tune you are singing Minister let’s have the data ASAP. Thank you for your efforts

  8. Anonymous says:

    “Ah yes, the old trickle down ploy” ( J Clouseau)!

  9. V says:

    Why are we spending 42 million on a private jet terminal when we don’t even have jet walk to the airplanes?

    Prior excuse was they cost too much. Cayman people are being screwed for a small minority of ultra wealthy. Government is spending your tax dollars folks.

    • Anonymous says:

      People in Bermuda wanted and got jet walks with their new airport, but CIAA believe they are not necessary and told the Canadian airport developers years ago, they did not want them as they were too expensive.

      Every major airport terminal built in the last 10 years has jet walks but not here.

      Enjoy the 🌧️ ☔️ ☔️ rain.

      • Sarasota Steve says:

        Why can we not have Pre Clearance for the USA like they have at the new Bermuda Airport?

        Nearly everyone who leaves our airport enters a U.S. entry point.

  10. Anonymous says:

    WTF is wrong with these people? Wayne P, how can you talk about sustainability when clearly nobody in government actually understands a thing about it?

  11. Anonymous says:

    “Just turtle grass”. Idiot what do endangered turtles eat ? Omg you all are so stupid. You are worse than Mario writing off high end autos! Not used to anything good! “Country come a town mi seh”

  12. Anonymous says:

    WHY? For the love of God why? Of all the things that need funding that are more pressing and vital… THE GD AIRPORT?

    • Anonymous says:

      And not just the airport….the private jet terminal!! $42M to rebuild the private jet terminal. Ridiculous.

      We don’t want the private jet set crew here anyway. Plenty of them up in Mykonos already flaunting their money and botox.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Scarily, that clown will be the Premier one day 🤣. That’s how shallow our elected member pool is. At least it won’t be Duhwayne though.

    • Anonymous says:

      Kenneth really is a show off buffoon with no education .
      If you have a plane disgorging 400 passengers , the space in immigration and customs will not accommodate the numbers if 2 or 3 arrive together.
      You’ll need 3 times immigration and customs staff, and another 100 taxis..
      Think before you pose for your pictures Kenneth , being a legend in your own mind does not benefit Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        When Mr Bryan’s fellow students were studying at school, 4:09,he was too busy abusing teachers and being disruptive.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Kenneth is trying to show Moses that he is the man now and all he is doing is showing his inability!

    What sense does it make to bring in these huge planes that will be filled with hundreds of passengers looking to connect to other parts of the region. We are not an international hub with hundreds of flights to other countries taking off on a daily basis so this is all a pipe dream full of smoke!

  15. Anonymous says:

    We all know that there will be no extension into the North Sound! The very same people who refuse to turn left to drive less than a quarter mile (to solve the Hurley’s roundabout) WILL NOT accept their view of the North Sound to be obstructed!! Who you all believe run this island??!! Silly people.

    • Anonymous says:

      3.14pm Turning left creates a bigger problem. All those going left will now have the right-of-way on Tomlinson roundabout thereby causing a back-up even further for the poor Eastern district residents. If a person can’t safely navigate Hurleys roundabout they should stop driving.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Let me get this straight…
    Panton’s Clown Car–the one headed by Mr. Environmental Sustainability himself–now want to pander to and encourage one of the most energy-inefficient means of travel there is: private jets.

    Private aviation has an off the chain carbon footprint ratio. A private jet emits upwards of 20 times more CO2 per passenger per mile than a commercial flight.

    Despite Panton’s spewings and holding himself out to be a champion for the environment, now we absolutely KNOW the truth: Panton and his Panton-PACTless Clown Car will sell out the environment for a bag of silver.

    • Range Roover man in charge says:

      why make the average people who fly commercial pay more for private jets they will never fly on. if it is for private jets for the wealthy charge them more they can afford it. We all don’t drive Range Roovers.

  17. Anon says:

    The Chair Johann Moxam’s comments …..?

    Stop making sense!?!

    A hard task ahead, but a sensible approach this time we hope

  18. Anonymous says:

    Surprised no one has mentioned why the average joe my paid $20 towards a private jet terminal that almost none of them will ever have the ability to use ever?

  19. Anon says:

    42 million for a private jet terminal no Caymanian is ever going to use? Imagine what the traffic situation might be like if this money went towards a bus system.

    • V says:

      Exactly, the wealthy can fill themselves at Mykonos while we average people have will be walking to work because we are not free to purchase vehicles after a certain age. Greenwashing Premier at his best.

    • Road from selkirk Drive, Red Bay to Owen Robert Dr says:

      why not just build a connector road then from Selkirk Drive around the east side of the runway to andys rental since they are filling in the North Sound anyway increase the with 30 feet wider for two vehicle lanes parrell to the run way. it will not cost much more anyway.

  20. Anonymous says:

    When I read that “officials said that the four projects would be financed through an increase in the airport terminal tax to CI$5 and the creation of a new airport development fee of CI$15 during the period of construction” it made me wonder how this is to be administered. Will it be like the current PFC which was created some years ago whereby the airlines simply add it to the cost of each passenger ticket and pay it into the Airport Authority? This would appear to be the simplest method. However, there is one little snag. That is that ALL airlines do this EXCEPT Cayman Airways. They collect the fee but fail to pay it over. There is a real good English word for that. But I will refrain from accusing those responsible in our National Flag Carrier of being thieves.

    They however must be happy with this news as it is bound to bring them another cash windfall in addition to what they are already receiving from the public purse. I just hope they can sleep at night with the knowledge of such.

    One also has to wonder why this never reaches the pages of the many Reports of the Auditor General. And speaking of which when last has an audit of Cayman Airways been made public?

    • Anonymous says:

      Given Cayman Airways losses each year are paid by the taxpayer, little practical difference between them keeping it and handing it over, only to get it back in subsidy anyway.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Come on, that is boring everyday helpful stuff, don’t get to make fancy storyboards for that kind of thing.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Connect Bimini Drive or Grand Harbour to the new airport jetty, might solve some of the traffic issues.

    • Anonymous says:

      so they can drive back East to join the traffic heading West and get stuck in traffic back to Camana Bay for 45 minutes?

  23. Anonymous says:

    While I will agree that there needs to be a new private aviation terminal. $42M for this facility seems way, way over the top in terms of cost. Facilities in the US like Signature Air are very nice facilities with nice waiting areas, conference rooms etc. but not at $42M I’d guess $10-12M US. But I forgot this is Cayman and the same folks that gave you two high schools for $250M a $20M cost overrun on the airport remodel, Cayman Air, the Turtle Farm it’s business as usual. 🤡🤡🤡

    • Anonymous says:

      you cannot compare the cost of building facilities in the US to building facilities here – the fact that materials have to be shipped here increases the cost significantly.

    • Anonymous says:

      Turtle Farm is a charity case.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Where are they planning to get the fill for this runway into the north sound? Cayman Brac’s bluff? In addition to filling in their only ponds? No ponds and no bluff, wow amazing future for Cayman Brac indeed.

  25. Anonymous says:

    “…serving the wealthiest visitors…” they would surely love the stench of The Dump!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Why not move the airport East?
    Sell the land in town and build a road from Prospect to Industrial area across the current runway, to alleviate traffic issues. Create opportunities in the eastern district. Give tourists an idea of what the rest of the island looks like as they drive or are bussed to their hotels. By the time the airport is built, the traffic issues should have eased.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Can we forget all this crap and just get a daily 7 am flight to Miami on American or Cyman Airways back please?

  28. Anonymous says:

    Assuming that a longer runway brings more air passengers – there aren’t enough rental cars or hotel rooms or beaches or space at the sand bar to make this viable. If you expand flights but don’t expand accommodations no one will be able to come. I hope that any airport development is done lockstep with accommodations and infrastructure development or it’s going to be a complete waste. Bahamas has HUGE Vegas style hotels – and we are going to need the same with this fancy, huge airport. Brace yourselves.

    • Anonymous says:

      To say nothing of bringing in more passengers when the terminal is packed to overflowing at peak hours as it is. Of course, that isue could be solved by allocating slots so the aircraft dont all arrive and depart at the same time, but I guess thats expecting too much of CIAA management.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Are the fancy exit door awnings without gutters still pitched towards the electric exit doors that short out and freeze up? Yup
    The indoor electric floor outlets still duct taped to try to stop flooding, since the sea level airport floor level wasn’t raised in the mega$$ “renovation” fiasco? Yup

  30. Duppy Says says:



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