Saturday 5 December, 2020

Airfield Upgrades Project remains "within the $45.7 million budget"

The Airfield Upgrades Project, which commenced in early November 2019, when the contract was awarded to IDL Projects Joint Venture in October 2019, is reportedly nearing completion after having been constrained by poor weather conditions over the past few months. 

“We are very pleased with the progress we have made to date, given the complexity of the works involved and the man power required behind the scenes, whilst continuing to maintain minimal disruption to a much-reduced volume of air traffic on a daily basis,” said Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) CEO Albert Anderson.

The six sub-projects include the rehabilitation of the existing runway surface to increase its strength and durability; a runway extension; a new parallel taxiway; the filling of the ponds within the airfield perimeter; establishing an airfield perimeter road; and expanding the aircraft parking ramp in an easterly direction to provide additional aircraft parking.

The apron expansion work was the first of the sub-projects to begin in late 2019, followed by the relocating of pond wildlife in January 2020 and the runway rehabilitation, parallel taxiway and runway extension in February 2020. In August 2020, construction works began and were completed on a new blast deflector, designed to mitigate jet blast at take-off by “deflecting” air upwards for departing aircraft to protect pedestrians, cyclists and vehicular traffic using the road adjacent to the Owen Roberts International Airport's (ORIA’s) fence line.

A separate project from the ORIA Terminal Redevelopment & Expansion Project, which was completed in July 2019, the Airfield Upgrades Project scope of works was first identified in the Airport’s Master Plan 2032 (published in 2014), which serves as a blueprint for future development of the Cayman Islands’ Airports to address the CIAA’s commitment to progressive, safe, sustainable and customer focused airport development.

The initial Master Plan estimate was $25.8M. After the substantial design and tender process, the full business case was approved by Cabinet for $34.3M, approximately $8.5M more than the initial estimate.  This was due to the fact that the tendered cost was based on a full design, including geo-technical data, electrical upgrades, project contingencies, risk, construction administration, insurance and project management costs. All of this would not have been included in the initial Master Plan estimates.

Due to unanticipated increased aircraft activity at ORIA in the first two quarters of 2019, a decision was made to bring forward additional airfield improvements identified in the Master Plan 2032 that were originally scheduled to commence at a future date.

These improvements included increasing ramp space at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) to accommodate demands for additional general aviation aircraft parking; a partial parallel taxiway from the east end of the runway to the apron to improve efficiencies of the runway for takeoff and landing; and an extension to the commercial apron to provide additional aircraft parking.

These additional improvements were estimated to cost circa $12.8M, and the full business case was approved by Cabinet. This brought the total approved budget for airfield works to $47.2M. These works consist of the Airfield Upgrades Project currently nearing completion at $45.7M, and the General Aviation Apron Expansion Project, yet to be started, at $1.5M. The General Aviation Apron Expansion Project is currently being reconsidered due to the COVID-19 impact on aviation traffic.

In November 2019, with Cabinet approval, the Cayman Islands Airports Authority went out to tender for a loan of $12.4M plus an overdraft facility of $8.5M to add to existing cash available to execute the Airfield Upgrades Project. The CIAA is currently negotiating the contract for this loan with a local bank and expects to finalise the transaction once Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) approval is received. In the interim, Finance Committee has approved the Cayman Islands Government (CIG) to provide a bridging loan to the CIAA, pending FCO approval.  The agreement with CIG is that once the commercial loan is approved the CIAA will repay the bridging loan.

“We are currently within the $45.7 million budget dedicated to the Airfield Upgrades Project and on track for completing the project scope by the end of 2020,” said Mr. Anderson. “During these unprecedented times, we are most grateful for the dedication and support of our partners, staff and traveling public as we strive to deliver a world-class airport experience from take-off to touch down.”

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