Jamaica pursues new international airport

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness, addresses reporters and stakeholders following a tour of the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St. James on May 13. [Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson]

– Vernamfield a viable option for fourth International Airport

By Garwin Davis

KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the government intends to pursue Vernamfield in Clarendon, as a viable option for a new international airport.

Speaking to reporters and stakeholders following a tour of the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James on May 13, Holness said despite the infrastructure upgrade at the island’s three international airports, there’s a strong argument to be made for a modern facility to be built from scratch.

“As we look to the future, it is inevitable that Jamaica may have to build from scratch a modern airport. We are trying with these three (Norman Manley International, Sangster International, and Ian Fleming International Airports) …always renovating and changing…and that will have to be, as they are all established airports,” he said.

“But when we think about things such as climate change…the possibilities of establishing maintenance, repairs, and operations of aircrafts…when we think about the possibility of training pilots and maintenance crew for aircrafts…the possibility of having cargo and other logistics, inevitably Jamaica will have to build another airport and we have been discussing this for some time with Vernamfield as a cargo facility,” the pime minister added.

He noted that for strategic reasons, the government will have to make that investment.

“Though its long term, it is still on the agenda of the Government. Inevitably and eventually, we will have to have a fourth international airport,” Holness emphasized.

Meanwhile, work has commenced on the runway extension at the Sangster International Airport.

The work includes the establishment of Runway End Safety Areas (RESA), relocation of thresholds and navigational aids, and increasing the take-off run available (TORA) for the primary runway from 2,662 meters to 3,060 meters. The extension work is part of a $US70-million runway expansion project.

When completed, the runway is expected to reposition the airport to accommodate larger and more powerful planes, while significantly reducing arrival and departure times.

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