City Will Get New Airport, to Replace Over-run "Airstrip"
The municipal airstrip in Belize City had outgrown itself like 20 years ago - which means that right about now, it's not old, it's ancient!
There's been talk about upgrading it for decades, but those plans have been like a sputtering plane that can't generate enough lift to get off the ground.
But now there's a plan and there's money at hand. We found out more today:
Jules Vasquez Reporting
The Belize City Municipal Airstrip is one of the busiest in the country - with an average of 120 flights landing and taking off from here everyday. The Belize It is the second busiest airport in the region.
And now, it's going to get a major overhaul - this is the rendering of the new Sir Barry Bowen Belize City Municipal Airport.
The project was launched today at a ceremony at the Municipal Airstrip.
It's a 9.5 million dollar project with funding from Social Security - which signed the loan agreement with the Belize Airports Authority today:
Kenworth Tillett - General Manager, Belize Airports Authority
"We're going to double the size of the airport. We're going to put in a brand new taxi way. We're going to be putting lights, so that we can operational at night. We're going to be building a road - a different exit, and we're also going to be building an office building for the Belize Airports Authority."
And those in the industry say it can't come too soon because the volume of traffic has long outgrown the battered, rundown facility:
"Belize City Municipal has been on the drawing board, in terms of this development, for over 20 years, and it has become necessary now. It's an urgency almost, because of the situation in terms of the erosion, and also because we need safer areas for the flying public."
"Is it wise to build against the sea when this airstrip has experienced so many closures this year because apparently unusually high tides, perhaps rising sea levels?"
"Well, all of that is going to be factored into the design, and I don't see it as unwise in terms of where we're building."
Work commences in early January - after the project goes out to bid.
The expansion will take place on 16 acres, acquired from the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits at SJC who owned it as part of their Landivar Campus.
The loan will be paid back by a rider fee of five dollars per ticket - which is a surcharge on every ticket for flights to and from Municipal. That fee went into effect earlier this year.
The Ministry of Works has committed to make the bids public.