The Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority (ABAA) has reported that it is ready for what tourism experts predict will be an exceptionally successful winter season.
Chief Executive Officer of the ABAA, Euletta Francis, said recently that the authority has been working behind the scenes to ensure that all its equipment is in working condition ahead of the commencement of the season.
The X-ray system used in baggage handling, especially on outgoing flights from V. C. Bird International Airport (VCBIA) is one item that has received attention.
“The baggage handling system has been giving us a lot of challenges for a number of years actually,” said Euletta Francis. “I think realistically, what we can say is that it was a bad purchase. No blame really; sometimes a company brings out a new vehicle and it just has its challenges.
“So, from 2016 since we opened, we have been experiencing challenges with the systems. They are very expensive machines, so this is a $US5 million project.” Francis also commended the team who successfully installed the first machine last week as part of the upgrade of equipment at the country’s lone international airport.
“I have to say kudos to my operations and maintenance teams. It was a major challenge. I think some errors were made and so there was nothing set in place that if you’re going to change out these machines what would be the course.”
Francis explained that the installation of the new fourteen thousand pound machine, which required breaking through walls and the use of heavy duty equipment, was completed with no disruption to operations at the airport.
Another challenge the ABAA has experienced with baggage handling concerns its faulty conveyor belt system.
This is most noticeable during check-in as for some time, passengers have been required to carry their luggage from the check-in desk to an airport security checkpoint where staff then accept them for screening.
Francis anticipates, however, that all system upgrades will be completed by December.
Looking ahead to 2023, resurfacing the runway and parking apron at VCBIA are among the ABAA’s top priorities.
“The runway is key to all of this activity that we’re talking about. We haven’t had a runway overlay in quite some years. We had to push a lot of things back for COVID, but we’re happy to say we are full-fledged into making that possible,” Francis said.
To cover the cost of all the work being done, Francis revealed that the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority is in the process of floating bonds to acquire the financing required to complete the planned upgrades. – POINTE XPRESS