NASSAU, The Bahamas – Expansion of the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) spells millions of dollars in increased revenue, a host of new job opportunities for Bahamians, and a boost to the national economy for the sustainable growth of The Bahamas.
The Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) is preparing for the opening of the new US departure terminal early next year, which is designed to be comparable to travelling through a US airport.
“Our expectation is the new airport terminal will open in early March of 2011 and we are projecting a ‘go live’ date of March 2, and that then is where all persons travelling to any city in the U.S. will check in,” said Vernice Walkine, vice president of marketing and communications at the Nassau Airport Development.
“So they will check in downstairs, and their bags will be taken from them right at the counters, unlike what presently pertains where you take your bag through to US customs and immigration. You won’t have to do that any more. Bags will be taken from you at the ticket counter, tagged and taken from you, and you will then walk through security with your carry on bags only, go through security, into the US immigration, customs and border patrol area for processing through there. Then you go upstairs to your gate.”
The Ministry of Tourism has been responding to the phenomenon of globalisation and urbanisation, by introducing experienced management teams to partner with government on long-term development projects. NAD is developing the new terminal, so that passengers experience identical services in The Bahamas as in international airports worldwide.
“Upstairs in the lounge will be several new restaurants, a couple of which are brand new to the airport that exist in the current terminal, such as Café Kalik and Wendy’s will be added. A couple of new bars will be added and new stores as well, so there will be a lot of retail and entertainment space upstairs in the new U.S. terminal,” said Ms. Walkine.
In 2004, NAD identified a custom business model that best suits a foundation of growth for its mission and vision for LPIA. The company has been in partnership with the Airport Authority and can predict their forecast based on its past effectiveness in the last five to six years.
In 2011, after the completion of the new terminal, NAD is ready to initiate Phase II of its development plan. The existing departure terminal will become an arrivals terminal. NAD’s Management foresees that LPIA will eventually become the regional hub airport for Caribbean and Latin American destinations.
“As soon as we have that terminal opened, construction will begin in earnest on Stage Two, which involves rehabilitating existing U.S. departure terminal into an arrivals terminal. So all arrivals will feed through that new terminal,” said Ms. Walkine.
“The expected pathway is that you will arrive at your gate and will come into the upstairs area to be processed through Bahamas Immigration. You will then go down the escalator to the baggage belts, collect your bags then go through customs and then exit the terminal.”
Development teams, such as the Downtown Nassau Partnership, the Nassau Tourism Development Board, and the Nassau Airport Development Company have invested heavily in attracting and hiring properly educated professionals to design strategies that manage the changes taking place in the environment.
Business analysts advise that individual management models must be designed by a professional team to specify solutions to manage challenges for the development project. As a result, what works for one project, may not necessarily work for another. NAD’s business model will transition the airport’s development through three phases of expansion, providing the opportunity to eventually process about twice the number of passengers that are currently passing through LPIA.
“It is expected that by the time we are done with the three stages of development here at LPIA, we’ll be able to process about 50 percent more passengers than we currently process,” said Ms. Walkine.
“The airport right now accommodates about three million passengers. We’ve had a high of about 3.4 million. This year, it was about three million or just over three million at 3.1, but we’re building for five million. So, we will have the ability to comfortably accommodate everyone who is coming through LPIA and then some. so it’s built for growth.”
NAD’s expansion of LPIA does not stop at building the new US terminal, but rather to manage a process of sustainable growth and development, addressing the infrastructural challenges of the airport to provide services for millions travelling throughout the region.
NAD’s objective is to eventually become a jet service facilitator for the Caribbean and Latin America, not only to the Family Islands. It will be similar to Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, which is the hub airport for the Southeast United States.
“We have a projected timeline of some 20 years or so to allow us to achieve that five million mark before we are considered to have outgrown that new facility, so it’s built with growth in mind,” said Ms. Walkine.
“The intent really of this airport is to make it what it already is, but to be much more efficient at handling connecting passengers, so it is really intended to be a hub airport for the Islands of The Bahamas, and if we’re successful, a hub airport for the Caribbean. As a hub airport, you will facilitate the seamless transfer of passengers and their bags, so right now we have sort of three disconnected terminals, and that will be eliminated with the redevelopment.”
Ms. Walkine explained that the terminals will all be connected in meaningful ways and have the facility to see to the onward transmission of bags to the domestic carriers, so people connecting to the other islands can do so very easily and seamlessly.
“It’s intended to truly become a hub airport,” said Ms. Walkine.