Thu | Jul 29, 2021

Gov’t: No plans to privatise international airport

Published:Wednesday | April 28, 2021 | 12:14 AM
The Maurice Bishop International Airport.
The Maurice Bishop International Airport.

ST. GEORGE’S(CMC):

The Grenada government Tuesday said it had no plans to privatise the Maurice Bishop International Airport, insisting that a recent statement made by an Egyptian investor is nothing more than his personal views.

“First of all, I want to state the obvious, this is a private businessman and he was voicing his own opinion at a session,” Tourism Minister Clarice Modeste responded when asked by reporters to comment on the statement by billionaire Naguib Sawiris at a ceremony to launch another of his tourism-related projects here.

Sawiris is the owner of the five-star Silver Sands on Grand Anse, south of here, and has promised to invest in properties that will add 500 hotel rooms to Grenada’s room stock in 2026.

“Our government has never had discussions either within government or within the Civil Aviation Department or with any businessperson,” said Modeste.

She said that the foreign investor was “expressing his personal opinion at that time and government has not discussed that”.

“Government has no intention of doing so at this time. I cannot say for governments in the future, but this is something that has not been considered at all,” said Modeste, who reminded journalists that Grenada’s airport is a statutory body that has been making a profit before the coronavirus (COVID-19) contracted the economy.

“Our airport is one of the few airports that is a statutory body that makes a profit … It has functioned well, so I do not see the necessity of that at this particular point in time,” the tourism minister told reporters at the end of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS

She said that for the first quarter of 2021, there has been an increase in cargo handling, even as the airport continues to experience a decline in commercial flights.

In March, the Keith Mitchell government announced that it was providing one million EC dollars (one EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) to the Grenada Airport Authority (GAA) to assist with its financial situation that has been linked directly to the downturn in the local economy.

“The GAA has also sought out and received assistance from government, which will amount to one million dollars each month, for the rest of 2021,” the GAA statement noted.