Airport Bosses Hope to Have a Temporary Expansion to the Owen Roberts International Airport Departure Lounge in Place by December to Ease Persistent Congestion Problems ahead of the Busy Tourist Season
Airport bosses hope to have a temporary expansion to the Owen Roberts International Airport departure lounge in place by December to ease persistent congestion problems ahead of the busy tourist season.
The Cayman Islands Airports Authority is seeking planning permission for a temporary structure that can accommodate an additional 229 passengers.
The building, which is expected to cost around $210,000, will also allow for the addition of three new departure gates. The authority acknowledged there had been persistent complaints over the last several years about severe overcrowding at the airport.
It has now reached the point where they can no longer wait for the permanent expansion of the terminal building – a multimillion-dollar project that could take up to three years to complete.
Albert Anderson, CEO of the authority, said he hopes an application can be fast-tracked through planning to have the temporary “membrane structure” in place by the beginning of high season.
He said the style of the building – a 3,500-square-foot glass-walled structure – was decided after consultation with tourism industry leaders in the private sector and government. He said it would be as close to a regular departure lounge as possible, feature wood flooring, a PA system, air conditioning and new bathrooms.
“It is no secret that we have had these problems with capacity,” he said.
“While we have the planned [permanent] airport expansion on the way, it is going to be a while before we have a usable extension of the space. We would love to click our fingers and have it done tomorrow, but realistically we need to look at options to deal with this issue in the interim.”
Bianca Moore-Downey, head of customer and commercial services at the airports authority, said similar structures are used in airports around the world to add capacity during temporary busy periods such as events like the World Cup or the Olympics.
“We wanted a solution that would be temporary in nature but would have the comfort and convenience of a departure hall,” she added.
She said the Cayman Islands Airports Authority is also looking at other temporary measures to alleviate overcrowding and increase comfort in other parts of the airport. These include additional canvas shading in waiting areas, including the space in front of the check-in desks, where passengers are often required to queue outside in the sun.
The addition of curbside check-in desks outside the building is also under consideration, as well as an outdoor picnic area for passengers, who often arrive hours before their scheduled departure after checking out of their hotels.
Source: Cayman Compass