Ministry picks priciest option for private terminal

| 27/06/2023 | 123 Comments
Artist's rendition of proposed new GA terminal at ORIA, Cayman News Service
Artist’s rendition of proposed new GA terminal at ORIA

(CNS): The Outline Business Case for the next phase of development for the airports on all three Cayman Islands has revealed that the government has picked the priciest option for redeveloping the General Aviation (GA) Terminal that caters to private jets at Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman. But there is very little in the document that justifies this element of the proposed plan.

On Monday evening, the Ministry of Tourism released the 280-page document, which outlines the review by public sector technocrats of elements of the Cayman Islands Airport Authority’s 20-year masterplan to justify the proposed projects.

But the document has very little to say about the $42 million GA terminal, the costliest element of the upgrades at Owen Roberts, stating only that the government’s policy is to attract more high-net-worth people to the islands.

A number of options are outlined in the document for sprucing up the terminal, where rich visitors spend a very limited amount of time as they come and go. According to sources close to the airport operations, the majority of people who arrive on private jets are coming to attend business meetings, though there are some who vacation at luxury resorts or visit their own properties.

The government has said it wants to attract more HNW guests but has not given a clear reason why the GA terminal should be moved or why the upgrade needs to be so costly. The options that have been presented include three that would improve the look of the current terminal, which appears to be the main priority of the upgrade.

However, the one chosen, which involves a complete rebuild at ORIA, is expected to cost over $42 million, accounting for well over half of the funds for the next development phase of Cayman’s airports.

“CIG has outlined in its policy that there needs to be a focus on attracting High Net Worth Individuals to the Cayman Islands,” the document states. “The current GA facility is of low quality, outdated and is not a good representation of the islands from a luxury brand perspective.”

But a close look at the OBC indicates a seemingly more pressing need to address the main terminal’s layout and congestion issues, especially at peak travel times.

Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan announced that the government was pressing ahead with the next steps to upgrade the airport facilities at a press conference last month.

As well as a new general aviation terminal, the plan includes lengthening the runway, technical upgrades to air traffic control at ORIA and safety upgrades at Charles Kirkconnell Airport on Cayman Brac for a total cost of $76 million. Bryan said this was “a significant and necessary investment in our airport facilities”.

The minister argued that once completed, the enhancements are expected to deliver significant economic benefits, such as increased stay-over visitor spending, increased revenues for the CIG, increased opportunities for additional airlift into Grand Cayman, and greater overall profitability for the CIAA.

But it remains unclear how a new costly GA terminal building and apron will increase visitor spending, given that most stay-over tourists are passing through the main congested terminal.

Check back to CNS later this week for more from the OBC.

See the full document in the CNS Library.

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Category: development, Local News, Travel

Comments (123)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Don’t forget more car rentals.

  2. Rod Bodden says:

    Now this is crazy, a bigger airport but no additional parking…… HELLO HELLO wake up!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow these people spending all this money on a airport don’t they have better things to do with that money what about helping the people of cayman with some of that money Everything in Cayman is expensive now people can’t afford rent Food you people comes up with everything to spend money on except the right things… like the Bible say the rich is going to get richer and the poor is getting poorer you people need to do better than that .. but as long as you all is living good .. for get about the rest of the people 🥲🥲


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