Chairman of the Grantley Adams International Aiport (GAIA) Inc, Vic Fernandes, today gave thirteen companies or consortia the green light to bid for a public-private partnership with the Government of Barbados to manage the facility for a period of up to 30 years.
The bidders all underwent a prequalification process, which began on February 3 this year, to prove they have significant experience in the aviation sector and, therefore, can manage the operation, financing, development, and maintenance of island’s airport.
The 13 prequalified bidders are:
Following this prequalification process, the companies and consortia will receive the Request for Proposals (RFP) and bidding documents for the GAIA Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project when the bid process is launched later this year.
With the divestment of the Grantley Adams International Airport advancing to this stage, Fernandes expressed delight with the competitive bidding process thus far.
“The Invitation for Prequalification was publicly launched on February 3 in the local and international press as the first phase of the international competitive bidding process for the further development of GAIA through a PPP, and followed a rigorous due diligence process completed last year. In essence, the prequalification phase invited companies to a first round to evaluate if they were qualified to bid on running the airport,” a release from GAIA stated
“In light of the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, several prospective bidders requested extensions for submission of applications,” it continued.
In order to accommodate the requests for an extension of the submission deadline, GAIA changed the date to May 11 for e-submissions, and May 29 for hard-copy submissions. In total, the airport received fourteen applications.
With the assistance of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) — a private sector arm of the World Bank which is advising GAIA Inc. and the Barbados Government on the structuring and implementation of the PPP — an 11-member Bid Commission comprising three subcommittees evaluated the prequalification application and advised GAIA Inc during this process.
“Well-structured public-private partnerships can be an important tool for governments to address development challenges by sharing risks between the public and private sectors,” noted Judith Green, IFC regional manager for the Caribbean.
“Through its advisory role, IFC will help the Government of Barbados leverage private sector capital and expertise in the redevelopment of the Grantley Adams International Airport, while retaining ownership. We are excited that this PPP has attracted 13 strong local, regional and international bidders in the midst of COVID-19, which demonstrates the appetite from investors to do business in the Caribbean,” she added.
In response, Fernandes commended the IFC, the management team of GAIA Inc, and the Bid Commission for “the most thorough, transparent and comprehensive process of identifying and evaluating the potential bidders.
“The interest displayed by potential operators confirms that the Grantley Adams International Airport is an extremely attractive investment opportunity and we have very high expectations of what will emerge as we move to the next stage in the process,” he added.
In terms of the rationale for the PPP, the Government, in collaboration with GAIA Inc, is seeking a qualified private investor to operate, expand and improve operations at the airport, as well as assist with driving increases in revenue and enhancing quality of service.
However, the Government and people of Barbados will retain ownership of the infrastructure, while the private partner would be granted a concession or lease until the end of the contractual period not exceeding 30 years.
Before the launch of the bid process in the last quarter of 2020, GAIA Inc will engage the prequalified bidders and other stakeholders to adapt the proposed structure of the PPP to the new environment, in light of changes to the airport and aviation industry brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Afterward, GAIA Inc and Government will decide on which operator will be awarded the contract based on the outcome of the evaluation of bids received, based on the pre-established criteria, and then award the contract in the first half of next year, with the signing of the concession agreement to take place within a month after.