Sangster runway works soon to take flight
A well-known United Kingdom firm is tipped to sign the contract to commence work on the runway at Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport, which is undergoing a US$100-million expansion.
Of that amount, US$37 million will be spent on expanding the runway by over 408 metres, which will include the realignment of sections of Kent Avenue and a new entrance linked to the Montego Bay Bypass.
The actual runway extension construction will commence in the first quarter of 2022 and will extend to the first quarter of 2023, Minister of Transport and Works Robert Montague told journalists during an update on the work being carried out at the facility Thursday afternoon.
Montague said that the investment was one of the masterpieces within his ministry and the Government.
A number of properties near the airport had to be acquired to facilitate the project, which brings the airport runway end safety area (RESA) up to international standards.
RESA is the surface surrounding the runway, making it suitable for reducing the risk of damage to airplanes in the event of an undershoot or overshoot.
Additionally, when completed, the runway will be able to accommodate aircraft with a higher payload (the carrying capacity). This could easily signal more passengers being processed in the facility that has the ability to accommodate some five million people annually.
“So, if you’re coming from a very far distance, we have flights as far as Russia. And if we talking about the weight of the aircraft or our payload, there are restrictions because of the limited length of the runway,” Shane Munroe, chief executive officer at MBJ Airports Limited, said.
“They’ll be able to carry a higher payload and also further destinations, which opens up some opportunities for aircraft to fly from routes that we don’t have today.”
Jamaica gets most of its traffic from North America. However, the expansion would help the island capitalise on new markets out of Asia and Eastern Europe.
Montague gave a sneak preview into the number of retail shops that are set to be opened this weekend, in time for the Yuletide season.
Both the arrival and departure areas of the airport will have more shops and food courts.
The expansion is taking place at a time when the airport is running at about 60 per cent capacity, in comparison to pre-COVID traffic.
Within the master plan, health facilities at the airport are also being expanded. Already, the new kiosks that were constructed allow persons to bypass the immigration officers, offering a quicker exit once their bags are on the carousel on time in the custom hall.
The transport minister said that the project would inject a lot of funds into the economy of St James and that local talent would be tapped.