The tourism and civil aviation industry of Belize saw a historic milestone on Friday, November 11th when the former Belize Municipal Airport was officially inaugurated as the new, ‘Sir Barry Bowen Municipal Airport’. Under the leadership, planning, and execution of Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr., Belize Airports Authority (BAA), Social Security Board, and the Jesuit Society of Belize, the $17 million investment enhanced safety measures and renovated the airport into a world class, modernized facility.
Giving a brief address was John Greif, President of Tropic Air. “Barry was larger than life, and was a gifted pilot. Aviation was one his passions, and this new airport would surely not exist if it wasn’t for his vision and stewardship of the project. He was a fine businessman, but there was another side of him. It is my sincere hope that this airport focuses our attention, and allows history to remember him as I do,” said Greif.
Lady Bowen presented a special address, where she spoke about the features of the new airport, and the passions of her late husband. “The transformation that we are witnessing here today is extraordinary. The Municipal airstrip was a short landing airstrip, and it is now one of the finest in the nation. For all of us, whether pilots or passengers, from now on, we can feel a new sense of pride and safety. As the wife of Sir Barry Bowen, I know he would be overjoyed if he was here today. For years, he dreamt of this reality and spent many hours envisioning a design, which was renamed in his honor,” said Lady Bowen.
Michael Bowen, son of Sir Barry Bowen and CEO of Bowen & Bowen Group also addressed the gathering. “This was a dream of my father’s for many years, and what has been done here was through the bilateral work of the private and public sector. My father cared for the safety of Belize, and tourists alike. He would be proud to see this project accomplished today,” said Bowen.
The refurbished airstrip includes an expanded runway: 2,900 feet long and 60 feet wide, with a parallel taxiway measuring 2,700 feet long and 60 feet wide. This also includes a new lighting system to accommodate the landing of aircrafts at night, which accommodates emergency flights. Proper signage and markings compliment the airstrip, and the airport is now compliant with local and international civil aviation standards. An apron with safety lines, parking and service road markings and 10 aircraft parking stalls are also among the newly added facilities.
More enhancements were made in this project, including the construction of an access road between Marion Jones Stadium and Saint John’s College; and the paving of the road from Marine Parade near the stadium with its junction with Saint Matthew Street. The new parking lot can also accommodate up to 153 vehicles, and is equipped with a security booth along with perimeter fencing, an electronic barrier system, security lighting, and a modern surveillance system.
A drainage system is found throughout the entire airport with box drains, culverts along the apron with major outlets to the sea and pedestrian walkways. To complement the mangrove system, 2,600 feet of seashore protection was installed alongside the runway. The provisions have now become the main hub for national municipal flights, and it also accommodates for future expansion of the airport.
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Landing at Belize City Municipal Airport
Catching the Marine Parade and Barracks Road on approach to the recently renamed Sir Barry Bowen Municipal Airport, November 23rd, 2016