Avia Collinder, Business Reporter
Jamaica Aircraft Refuelling Services (JARS) has developed a fuel farm to store aviation gas and jet fuel at the Ian Fleming International Airport.
JARS General Manager Luther Williams said the fuel farm owned by his company will be up and running by end-September.
The St Mary facility, Williams said, will allow fuelling of small planes with aviation gas. It allows Ian Fleming to offer small-plane parking for craft travelling the Caribbean. He also said South America is potentially a big source of commuting craft.
A parking facility for small planes, where they can also refuel, is a first for Jamaica, according to the JARS executive.
"There is a lucrative market to be captured. A lot of rich clients want to fly in, park, and move around," he said, adding that some 7,000 hotel rooms in proximity to the airport should benefit from stopovers.
"We will be able to handle as many small aircraft as come in for fuel," Williams said.
EXPECTED TO PULL TRAFFIC
Alfred McDonald, senior director for commercial development and planning at the Airports Authority of Jamaica, said the development is expected to pull more traffic to the north-central port.
Airports Authority owns and operates Ian Fleming International.
JARS is a joint venture between Petrojam Limited and Air BP, which is the aviation arm of British Petroleum. It already owns fuel-farm installations at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay and the Norman Manley International Airport and Tinson Pen Aerodrome in Kingston.
The Ian Fleming facility was developed on 1,047.95 square metres of land leased from the Airports Authority. Williams would not disclose the direct cost of the project but said JARS spent a total of US$1.2 million on fuel storage at both Ian Fleming and Tinson Pen.
The fuel farm has a capacity of 6,000 gallons of aviation gas, used by craft such as Cessna Citations; and 13,000 gallons of A1 jet fuel.
Thompson said jet-fuel demand is 90 per cent of the market, but the Airports Authority expects to see the reverse at Ian Fleming, which does not have a runway long enough for jets and large aircraft as yet.
Since the airport opened in April 2011, traffic count has amounted to 3,002 plane landings and 3,005 departures.
Among the arrivals, only 359 were of international origin, with 334 departing to international gateways. Over 2,000 take-offs and the same number of arrivals were local craft.
"You will note that traffic has not changed significantly over the past period," said McDonald. International traffic might increase now that the fuel farm has been completed, he said.
Williams adds that Ian Fleming "will now be a destination of intent" for small commuting craft in and outside the Caribbean.
"It is also well positioned for commuting to and from South America," he said.
However, the airport needs to be expanded so that large aircraft can land, he adds.
Ian Fleming International has one runway with an asphalt surface measuring 4,769 feet by 79 feet. The airport is designed to handle private and commercial aircraft as large as the Cessna Citation Excel.
Previously known as Boscobel Aerodrome before its US$300m upgrade, the airport was originally a limited-service facility on which renovations began in early 2009. The airport was officially commissioned on January 12, 2011.