The Government of Barbados has indicated that it is in the process of reviewing the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to make it attractive for ‘new realities’ of the aviation industry.
Following this review, the Government will launch the tender process for a PPP in late April.
In fact, Minister of Tourism and International Transport in Barbados Senator Lisa Cummins has re-emphasised the importance of a PPP at the GAIA, particularly at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected international travel.
“We remain focused on the GAIA PPP to mobilise private sector investment and expertise; redevelop and upgrade the infrastructure, and facilitate the redesign of the airport for the new realities of the aviation industry. This, while strategically retaining ownership of our airport,” she outlined.
GAIA’s chairman, Vic Fernandes, had announced the shortlisting of 13 corsortia/companies bidding to secure a PPP arrangement for the airport last August. Preceding this was a prequalification process that started in February last year.
After the prequalification stage, the Barbados Government decided to review the details of how the PPP would work, given the impact of the pandemic, before issuing the Request for Proposals.
“The increased transmission of the coronavirus, with ‘second waves’ in Barbados’ main tourism source markets, the emergence of new variants, and the additional restrictions implemented globally and locally have delayed the PPP process,” Senator Cummins explained.
“A detailed review of the PPP is under way, with consultations among GAIA Inc, Government and its advisors, to ensure a viable and attractive transaction for all parties. Once the revisions are approved, it is expected that GAIA Inc will launch the tender process for the shortlisted bidders at the end of April 2021,” she added.
The minister also emphasised that it was necessary to prepare the airport for future growth opportunities.
“Our goal is to ensure that the airport is well positioned not only for today, but for future growth, as we seek to attract visitors back to our shores, taking the necessary measures to do so safely,” she said.
“The recommendations to restructure the transaction for the successful tender of the PPP will help the Government realise its goal of positioning GAIA as the airport of choice within the region; able to deliver service quality standards in line with international best practices,” Senator Cummins added.
More specifically, the tourism minister has mooted that GAIA plays a critical role in Barbados becoming a tourism hub in the southern Caribbean.
The tourism minister also pointed out that the Government is working simultaneously to develop the country’s aviation sector and improve its regulatory framework so that it can attain Category One status.
“GAIA Inc and our partnerships with globally experienced concessionaires will be an important anchor for that,” she explained.
As a result the PPP, will allow the Government to retain ownership of the airport while the operator, as a concessionaire, will expand, operate and maintain the facility until the end of the contractual period, which should last up to 30 years.
Both GAIA Inc and the Government will deliberate on awarding the lease and concessionaire contract to an operator based on the outcome of the evaluation of bids against the pre-established criteria.