When we say the future of Caribbean Aviation looks bright we are by no means exaggerating as the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) in Grenada is being positioned to deliver way more than a typical Caribbean runway and terminal.
The island, capitalizing on its growing international presence, has acknowledged aviation as not only an important economic driver on its own, but a part of the foundation for island and arguably region-wide economic growth. The sector is poised to develop on a macro scale.
So much does the Grenada Government believe in this theory that it has enshrined it within its development roadmap. Among the strategy approaches is a liberalized aviation policy that will see the Grenada Airport Authority (GAA) sitting at the forefront of aviation development in a manner that allows for swift and effective reaction to the Caribbean and global marketplace.
One of the key benefits of this new policy is the allowance for the GAA to make key and timely decisions on infrastructure investment that will allow for robust and long-term viability and skipping the time-consuming red tape called bureaucracy.
One of these infrastructural developments is the much talked about modernization project at the MBIA in Point Salines, Grenada and the Lauriston Airport in sister-isle Carriacou. This is an estimated US$75 million undertaking between the two islands. Consideration has also been given to the development of a new airport to be developed at Dumfries in Carriacou with a stunning US$111 million price tag.
By the end of the exercise, Grenada will boast a modern, diverse and generally improved aviation service sector. This will see the development of an integrated approach to terminal design and general infrastructure in the GAA’s quest to be multi-modal in its future operations and for that the Authority is willing to partner with the private sector.
Among the expected highlights of this integrated approach is a smart and sustainable aviation city in Grenada and Carriacou – a move that is expected to pilot the territory into a pivotal hub in the Caribbean for tourists, cargo facilitation and aviation training.
The latter of these has already been realized with the launch of the Aviation Training Centre at the Maurice Bishop International Airport on November 29th, 2016. The GAA will partner initially with the Vaughn College of Aeronautics & Technology to commence courses in Aircraft Maintenance, Flight Dispatch Operations, Flight and Airport operations. The strategic intent of this move by the GAA is to build capacity before the construction of the Grenada Aviation Academy. When this aspect of the ambition is complete, it should reflect an investment tag of almost US$19 million.
The preferred arrangement for the overall development is of course a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with a potential developer.
Further, the aviation advancements in Grenada will look to inculcate a pioneering and service-led culture in the aviation and tourism sector, while also getting involved with stakeholders to aggressively market the destination as well as enhance and develop ‘Brand Grenada’.
The GAA has recognized the need for a business-type approach to this macro-level venture that must move the airports from its breakeven approach to a compensatory or hybrid approach that will give the Authority entrepreneurial autonomy and eventually create a more rationalized approach to airport management.
In this model, the private sector becomes a partner, in creating an environment where the airport increases economic activities and sustains profitability.