official opening of the runway extension and control tower facility last week,
both Liat and Caribbean Star extended congratulatory messages to the Government
of the BVI. Mr. Daniel Oliver, Director Marketing and Sales in Antigua
represented Liat, while Mr. Edward Gilkes, General Manager, Commercial was
Caribbean Star’s representative. After the official opening at the airport,
American Eagle presented a miniature ATR 72 aircraft to the Government of the
BVI. In photo from left: Mr. José Vélez-Rubio, Managing Director American Eagle
for San Juan and the Caribbean presents the model plane to Chief Minister Smith.
Others in photo from left to right are: Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of
Finance, Health and Welfare the Honourable Ronnie W. Skelton, Ms. Evette Negron
of American Eagle, Minister for Communications and Works the Honourable Paul
Wattley and Government Chief Whip Dr. Kedrick Pickering. [photo GIS/Rick
Lettsome Airport gets Runway Extension, New Tower
By Giorgio Migliavacca
Thursday 20 May was another great milestone in the BVI’s continuing commitment
to economic growth as local authorities attended the official opening of the
runway extension, airport tower and operations block at the T. B. Lettsome
International Airport at Beef Island. In attendance were Chief Minister Dr. the
Hon. D. Orlando Smith, His Excellency Governor Thomas Macan, Opposition Leader
Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal, Minister of Government, Legislators and invited Guests.
“As we are all
well aware, Tourism is and will continue to be one of the primary pillars in our
economy well into the 21st century. To ensure this pillar remains
strong, my Government is focused on upgrading and enhancing our Territory’s
tourism product. That includes encouraging new developments such as a five-star
resort, new hotel projects, and a world-class golf course. Meeting these
commitments must begin with an airport that meets international standards,”
the Chief Minister said.
“And let us
not forget our financial services, the other mainstay of our economy. Executive
jets will now be able to easily land here and not be diverted to other airports,
making it easier for persons in that area of business to get in and out easily
and in much greater comfort,” he added.
The BVI Chief
Minister said that the money invested in extending the main airport’s runway is
an investment in the future of the BVI.
expansion of the airport is the largest project ever undertaken in the history
of the Territory and the facility is in the Chief Minister’s words “an
indication of what the BVI can accomplish as a Territory of people who aspire to
be on the cutting edge.”
Communications & Works, Hon. Paul P. Wattley said that the runway extension,
with a total operation field length of 4600 feet will enhance safety of
aircraft operations in the BVI as well as provide facilities that allow the
economic use of aircraft equipment on the route. He pointed out that the runway
extension meets the operational and safety requirements of aircrafts projected
to serve the TB Lettsome International Airport to the year 2015.
further explained that the new 85-feet tall control tower and operations block
will provide the infrastructure for greater safety and oversight of the air
transportation services. “The old tower severely restricted the operational code
and categorization of the facility, as its proximity to the runway penetrated
the imaginary diagonal runway safety boundary.”
Communications & Works Minister outlined the history of the entire airport
expansion project and supplied technical details. Next to the control tower and
connected by a secure-link corridor is the Operation Block. This houses aviation
administration offices, training rooms, pilot’s briefing room and radio repair
Both the Chief
Minister and Hon. Wattley emphasised that the runway extension will make it
possible for executive jets to land at Beef Island, thereby providing direct
access to the BVI to business executives, affluent visitors, and the top brass
of the financial services industry.
“By offering a
superior product – from world-class customer service, to attractive activities
and a pristine environment – we can create an international reputation that can
then feed on itself and create a virtuous cycle of growth. First time visitors
will become repeat visitors. Repeat visitors will record their experiences on
the internet where it will be accessed by new visitors. And with each new guest
and each good experience we create, we send out another marketer, trumpeting the
virtues of visiting, and doing business in, our beautiful BVI,” the Chief
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