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News from the Turks and Caicos Islands:

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Airport expansion takes off
Published on August 4, 2012 Email To Friend    Print Version

With the territory wondering what had happened to the expansion of the main airport at Providenciales, the interim government has now announced a $10 million expansion of the existing terminal.

In what appears to be a serious retreat from the planned $50 to 60 million expansion previously announced, the work will nevertheless add 80 percent to the size of the existing facility.

The airport expansion scheme, launched late in the Misick administration and embraced by both political parties and the direct rule government, was previously reported to cost between $90 and 100 million. This amount included runway and apron work, which has been completed for a reported $40 million.

The expanded runway can accommodate wide body aircraft, which require longer and heavier pavement, and expanded airport aprons to park the monster planes. The enlarged terminal was to include air bridges (jetways) to ease passenger access to and from the planes.

The expansion was also slated to include a large parking facility. However, the car park has apparently been found unnecessary, as most residents do not leave their vehicles at the airport. Nevertheless, there is currently very limited parking for rental cars and short term parking. Therefore the newly announced modified plan does include an improved traffic plan and enlarged parking. This appears to be phase one.

The second phase will include additions to the existing 51,400 square foot terminal to a new total of 92,300 square feet, concentrating first on the international departure area.

The third phase will expand the domestic flight area expansion.

Not mentioned is any expansion of the baggage claim, immigration and customs areas, which at times can be crowded. Also not mentioned and seemingly cancelled are the jetways.

With the government now embracing a joint venture with UK-owned Serviceair of Texas, it appears that they and other private ground handlers will have to also expand their air-stairs vehicles.

The original plan was scheduled to include up to a $35 increase in the departure tax, which is now slightly over $100. It is hoped that this will now be tempered, as air fares have nearly doubled in the last two to three years.

The work is due to start in early 2013 and be completed in two years.

There has been no news or reported consideration of the previous international airport at Grand Turk.

International flights no longer call at Grand Turk, which in years past was the only intentional field landing flights of the long defunct Pan Am Airlines. For a short period four years ago, Spirit Airlines called at both Grand Turk and Provo, carrying passengers at budget fares to and from Fort Lauderdale. Grand Turk residents must now pay $200 for a round trip ticket to Providenciales to access the international flights to the USA and other destinations

In related news, Miami International Airport has just opened its terminal expansion, which will greatly reduce the amount of walking experienced by arriving travelers from the TCI via American Airlines.

Expanded immigration, baggage and customs facilities have now reduced US visitors’ clearance time to 10 minutes. Also new is the Metro Rail train, which now arrives at the airport. For a $5 fare per person, the train will accommodate arriving and departing passengers from numerous train terminals from Miami to West Palm Beach. This train also serves the Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach airports.
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