A major milestone in the Owen Roberts International Airport re-development project, with the opening of the new ticketing area. The Cayman Islands Airports Authority said the pace of change will pick up over the next several months as the project moves into the home stretch.
The opening of the new ticketing area comes as the country closes in on its best-ever stayover visitor numbers on record, with an expected 400,000.
Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Hon. Moses Kirkconnell said while the airport is still a work in progress, the project is still on-time and still on-budget.
A little more than two years since ground was broken on the ambitious $55 million Owen Roberts re-development plan and the first new areas are open for business.
“To see passengers actually starting to use the departure area, it is good for us, it is good for the country, it is good for tourism,” said Mr. Kirkconnell.
He said this major milestone is the cherry on top of what is expected to be a record-smashing year for air arrivals.
“Obviously when we are going to go over 400,000 this year for the first time ever in history, it is first time ever in history, it’s very timely to start opening the airport in this year,” said Mr. Kirkconnell.
“n terms of travelers, they haven’t really been impacted that much because we’ve been working on two wings of the building,” said Airports Authority CEO Albert Anderson.
He said that may change in the coming months as work progresses towards a December 2018 completion date.
“We will see probably a bit more impact on travelers now, and for that we apologize upfront again, we are making it as comfortable as possible but we will start to impact the passengers through security and departure over the next few months,” said Mr. Anderson.
Mr. Anderson said he expects the new arrivals area, customs, and immigration to come online in January.
“Then from there it is going to be the start of the construction on the arches, there will be the enclosure of the new departure hall which should be finished sometime around June of next year, and then it’s the renovations of the old structure that’s inside that will take the rest of the year,” said Mr. Anderson.
When it’s all said and done, the new airport will be able to handle a passenger throughput of 2.5 million per year. That’s five times what the current airport was designed to handle.