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#452866 - 12/06/12 07:52 AM WOW! Muni Airport to be upgraded!
Marty Offline

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:

Kenworth Tillett
"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."

Jules Vasquez
"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?"

Kenworth Tillett
"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.

Channel 7

#452882 - 12/06/12 08:37 AM Re: WOW! Muni Airport to be upgraded! [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Municipal Airstrip extension and renamed after Sir Barry

The Municipal Airstrip in Belize City is getting a nine point five million dollar upgrade. Works got underway today and it will take two years to complete. Notably, the airstrip will be named posthumously after Sir Barry Bowen who was killed in a plane accident in February 2010. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Municipal Airstrip in Belize City because the facility and runway will be upgraded. Upon completion it will carry the name of former pilot and former head of the Bowen Group, Barry Bowen.

Rene Montero, Minister of Transport

Rene Montero

“The Belize Municipal Airport Airstrip is hereafter to be known as the Sir Barry Bowen Municipal Airport in memory of the great missionary of this country. This airstrip is considered to be the mother ship of the system. This will be a huge project at a total cost of nine point five million dollars with a landing strip almost double in size—width and length—to some three thousand three hundred feet which will provide for safer takeoff and landing of all aircraft.”

There were issues that had to be addressed before formalizing the new arrangement.

Rene Montero

“Noise complaint from residents has been a problem and especially from the students of Saint John’s College, our neighbor, has raised this concerned on numerous occasions. They can take solace in the fact that we heard you and noise mitigation measures have been built into the design of this project. The journey to get here has been long; the obstacles were great and many, however, we did not falter and today we now stand prepared for the start of the major works. It is expected that this project will be successfully completed in two years.”

Kenworth Tillett

Kenworth Tillett, General Manager, Belize Airport Authority

“For the past couple of years, since my appointment as General Manager of the Belize Airport Authority, I have been fighting to make this project come to past. Today after years of patience and being persistent—not very patient, but being persistent—it gives me immense pleasure to welcome you to witness this signing and groundbreaking of this much anticipated upgrade and rehabilitation project.”

The contracts were signed by the S.S.B. representative and the ministers. Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia, spoke on the runway project of which Barry Bowen was a big fan.

Manuel Heredia

Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism

“With the nine point five million, you will be getting a first-class airstrip; that all of us will be proud. But particularly, I will be more proud as I mentioned in the beginning; it was an idea of Sir Barry Bowen and thanks to god that even the present minister still agreed to name it on its owner because I believe he definitely deserves it. He was a person that tried to cooperate as much as possible with infrastructure not only in Belize City but likewise in many other parts of the country. I fully well remember the only bridge that is in San Pedro; again it was a good gesture of how a person that loves his country can come together with good people cause he really believed in good people—he will not do a deal with anybody. But in San Pedro, particularly with myself, we had a very, very good relationship even at the times when I was from another party and he was very well tied up with the other. We were still good friends and he still assisted us in San Pedro. One thing had to do with Central Government and the other one for the island and he loved that island. And the other thing that we shared in common in San Pedro [was] walking barefoot.”

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

Channel 5

#452982 - 12/07/12 09:05 AM Re: WOW! Muni Airport to be upgraded! [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Belize City Municipal Airport to be doubled in size

The Belize City Municipal Airport has been serving Belize City for years. AIRPORT FOOTAGE - It is often utilized by tourist or persons who need a quick flight out to one of the islands or need to get back into the City. It is more centrally located than the Philip Goldson International Airport and therefore it sees its fair share of daily traffic. Being that it's highly trafficked, an upgrade of the Airport has been long overdue. Kenworth Tillett is the General Manager, for Belize Airports Authority. 

Belize City Municipal [Airport] has been on the drawing board, in terms of this development, for at over 20 years. And it has become necessary, 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 

Tillett outlines the expansion and infrastructure upgrade that the facility will be receiving. 

We are going to double the size of the airport.  We're going to put in a brand new taxiway. We're going to be putting in lights, so that we can be 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 Airport Authority.

But many question whether an upgrade of the Airport should be carried out as it's located right along the sea and is in a residential zone which poses a flight risk. 

The Philip Goldson [International] Airport in terms of access for local residents is expensive. And this airport, all the experts will tell you, is located in the best location, because of its orientation. It is in a residential area, but again the orientation says that basically when we expand you're be coming in over the sea both ways. So there's no residents in the flight paths.

he bid documents are expected to advertised as early as next week. That process will last for three weeks and works is expected to start in early January 2013. The loan was secured from the Social Security Board to the tune of $9.8 million.



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