MBJ Airports Limited, which operates the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James, will begin a US$22-million resurface of the runway starting next month, resulting in the runway closing an hour earlier than the normal curfew.
Management said it has liaised with airlines to avoid a loss of passenger volumes.
"The runway will close nightly from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. It will take six to eight months but it really will not affect air traffic because we have been sensitising airlines for over 12 months," said Elizabeth Brown Scotton, chief commercial officer at MBJ Airports Limited.
Under normal circumstances, the runway is subject to an 11 p.m. curfew due to noise concerns in the resort city.
Busiest airport in Ja
The Sangster International Airport, the busiest of the three international airports in the island, saw a 2.89 per cent rise in traffic for the first half of the year, based on latest statistics.
Scotton said the passenger numbers were reasonable, given the worldwide recession. She indicated that the number of passengers was not as high as expected, "partly due to warmer than normal winter conditions in our strongest markets of Canada and the northern part of the United States. As you can see, there has been some recovery and we are now about on target for where we thought we would be for this time of the year."
She declined to reveal share of equity to debt to finance the project but revealed that the total cost would be US$22 million.
High operational standards
The 2.6-kilometre runway will allow for smoother and safer landings in Montego Bay, which receives twice as many passengers as those landing in Kingston. The upgrade is part of MBJ's concession obligation to maintain high operational standards.
MBJ Airports has spent US$180 million since 2003 to upgrade the airport. Passenger movements at the Sangster International Airport provisionally totalled 3.32 million in the 2011 calendar year, versus 3.28 million in 2010, according to the Economic and Social Survey Jamaica report.
In April 2003, MBJ Airports received a 30-year concession to operate and manage the airport. Spain's Abertis Airports holds a 74 per cent stake in MBJ Airports Limited, and Canada's Vancouver Airport Services holds 25.5 per cent.-
Kingston-based Norman Manley International Airport, which is up for divestment, is also planning to extend its runway by up to 25 per cent. It awaits environmental approval.
Jamaica now has three international airports - Sangster, Norman Manley and the upgraded Ian Fleming Airport in Boscobel, St Mary, the latter handling single-engine and business jet traffic.