Divestment of Norman Manley Airport to be complete by 2019
The divestment of the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) is scheduled to be completed by June 2019, noted president and chief executive officer of the Airports Authority of Jamaica and NMIA Ltd, Audley Deidrick.
Outlining the stages that have been completed to date, he informed that, "earlier this year, eight bidders were prequalified for the transaction, and the bidding stage was launched in June. Since that time, we had a major bidders' conference in September, where five of the eight bidders showed".
Deidrick explained that the bidders went through a series of presentations, and the enterprise team fielded questions from them and heard concerns and issues that they wanted to see contemplated in the transaction.
"Since then, they have submitted their formal requests for these matters to be considered. We are currently going through the process of assessing those requests to see what we will accept and what we will reject. Suffice it to say that they remain very actively and positively engaged," he noted.
GOV'T TO ANNOUNCE WINNING BIDDER
He said that the final draft of the concession agreement is being vetted by the enterprise team,to be sent back to the bidders after review by the team, the lenders, and the Cabinet.
"We expect after this process that the bid launch will take place in February 2018, and given a 30-day turnaround for the bids, by March they should have been returned. Within a month, the winning bidder will be announced by the Government. Based on this timeline, we expect to have commercial close by June of 2018," he explained.
Deidrick said that one of the proposals that the enterprise team consented to in the question-and-answer process was to extend the period for financial closure from nine months to 12 months.
"As such, financial closure should take place in June of 2019, so that is when you are likely to see a new operator taking over NMIA, assuming all goes to plan," he said.
Deidrick explained that the chosen operator should be able to fulfil three critical requirements for qualification - financial strength to expand and operate the facility, technical competence to do the required construction and expansion, as well as airport operating competence and expertise.
He said that all prequalified bidders have satisfied the requirements in every respect, and they are now required to place their most attractive bid.
The chosen concessionaire will have a mandate to undertake a major capital expansion programme at the airport, which includes extension of the runway and improvement to the airside and other terminal facilities.