The Government of Saint Lucia said it will secure funding for the country’s airport infrastructure to meet international air transport standards as well as improve its climate resilience.
In a press release issued last Friday, Saint Lucia Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Allen Chastanet noted that the weaknesses in the airport infrastructure and operations have been ignored for far too long. Consequently, the country must capitalise on the opportunity presented to make the necessary improvements.
“The project considers Saint Lucia’s resilience in the air transport sector and seeks to respond to the immediate environmental risk factors by supporting the Government of Saint Lucia to better manage the impact of shocks and adapt to changing circumstances through the improvement of climate resilience in airport infrastructure and systems,” Prime Minister Chastanet stated.
Just last week, on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, the Caribbean Regional Air Transport Connectivity Project was brought to the House of Assembly and a motion was tabled to borrow US$45 million.
The project consists of five main parts, including the improvement in operational safety and flood disaster resilience of the runway at Hewannorra International Airport, and support for SLASPA’s compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s standards. The other aspects of the project focus on the modernisation of the air navigation systems, strengthening institutional capacity, project management, and contingent emergency response.
“Our airports serve as our primary gateways to the outside world, and we must make the necessary investments in improving their safety and resilience.”— Prime Minister and Minster of Finance of St Lucia Allen Chastanet
“From since 2013, Saint Lucia has been red-flagged by the Universal Oversight Audit Programme of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which raised concerns about the country’s ability to properly oversee the airports, aircraft and air navigation services,” Chastanet shared.
“Our existing airport infrastructure and navigation system [are], in many areas, non-compliant with international standards on safety oversight,” he added.
The funds for the Caribbean Regional Air Transport Connectivity Project will be sourced from the International Development Association (IDA), with the terms of the loan being largely concessional, carrying a low-interest rate and a lengthy grace period.
“Our airports serve as our primary gateways to the outside world, and we must make the necessary investments in improving their safety and resilience.”
Minister for Infrastructure Stephenson King also voiced his support for the motion, stating, “The resurfacing of the runway is important at this time as it is clearly very worn and in need of attention. Our airport cannot remain susceptible to flooding which can ultimately ground all air transport for days. COVID-19 gives us a unique opportunity to start this work.”